Qualifying Customers Encouraged to File for State Home Heating Credit

Posted on August 28, 2012. Filed under: Payment Assistance | Tags: , |

Qualifying residential customers who have not yet received a Home Heating Credit this year are encouraged to file before September 30, 2012.  The Home Heating Credit is based on household size and income. It can be applied to all heating costs, including propane and purchased firewood. Applicants do not need to file a state tax return to receive this credit.

“With federal funding cuts for utility assistance anticipated this coming winter, the time to act is now,” said Whitney Skeans, Consumers Energy’s customer assistance coordinator. “Since January, over 130,000 Consumers Energy customers have received a credit on the average of $148 per household. When you consider that this represents about two months of heating cost, it’s no small change. Indeed, every bit helps.”

Last year, more than 484,000 Michigan residents received $66.8 million in aid through the Home Heating Credit program, which is funded by the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

We can provide applicants with their annual heating cost, required on the form, by calling the utility at 1-800-477-5050. Additional information for our customers on how to apply for a Home Heating Credit is available by visiting our website.

The Home Heating Credit Claim form (MI-1040CR-7) is generally available wherever other tax forms are provided.  You also may get forms from the Michigan Department of Treasury at (517) 636-4486, at www.michigan.gov/heatingassistance, at Consumers Energy bill payment offices, at our website, or by calling us at (800) 477-5050.  For customers in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Livingston counties, free filing assistance is available at 5 metro-area locations through the Accounting Aid Society (1-866-673-0873).

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Resources to Help With Heating Bills

Posted on February 13, 2012. Filed under: Payment Assistance | Tags: , , , , , |

Governor Snyder has designated February as Keep Michigan Warm Month. Even though this winter has been milder than past winters, there are many who will still need help with heating bills.

Last year, more than 484,000 Michigan residents received a combined total of almost $67 million in aid through the Home Heating Credit program, which is funded by the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  Last year’s average credit was $138.  Due to federal funding cuts, that’s expected to be lower this year.  Though the deadline to file is Sept. 30, 2012, residents are encouraged to file early.

“Qualifying Michigan residents can get help with their heating bills through a Michigan Home Heating Credit and a federal Earned Income Credit,” said Whitney Skeans, our customer assistance coordinator. The Home Heating Credit can be used for all types of primary heating fuel, including natural gas, propane and purchased firewood. You do not need to file a state tax return to apply.

Home Heating Credit forms (MI-1040CR-7) are available at most public libraries, Secretary of State branch offices, Department of Human Services branch offices, or through our website. The federal Earned Income Credit is another refundable federal income tax credit available to qualifying low-income taxpayers.  It must be filed during tax season. For income guidelines, contact your employer or the Internal Revenue Service at (800) 829-3676. You can also contact the  Michigan Department of Treasury at (517) 636-4486 for more information or for downloadable forms.

Consumers Energy employee-volunteers are also hosting Accounting Aid Society volunteers at our Pontiac service center, 1030 Featherstone at Opdyke Road. Volunteers will assist southeast Michigan residents with the Home Heating Credit applications each Saturday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. until April 14. The service center is handicapped-accessible. Other locations for tax filing assistance are available through the Accounting Aid Society or Michigan VITA.

Information on ways to manage your winter energy bills as well as a link to the Coalition to Keep Michigan Warm can be found at: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/bewinterwise_138994_7.htm

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Help For Those Who Need Payment Assistance

Posted on January 26, 2012. Filed under: Payment Assistance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

With the heating season upon us, now is the time to get the word out about payment assistance programs. When you help our customers understand the options that are available, you can help protect them from having their gas or electric service shutoff. If you know someone will have difficulty paying their energy bill, have them call us toll-free at 800-477-5050 for information about payment options and assistance programs.

Another resource that is available for people seeking assistance is to have them call 2-1-1 . This service is available in most counties in Michigan. Spearheaded by the United Way, 2-1-1 is a free phone service that links people with information or agencies that can help with utility assistance and other needs. Calls are confidential and answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Translation service is available. For more information, visit uwmich.org/2-1-1

There are also special programs for customers who are 65 and older and the head of the household.  This group of customers may qualify for shut-off protection, no late payment charges and automatic eligibility for payment plans regardless of income.  If you know of someone in this category, have them call us at 800-477-5050 or e-mail customer@consumersenergy.com.

Another option is the Earned Income Credit (EIC), a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income workers. Those who qualify will owe less in taxes and may get a refund. Even a person who does not generally owe income tax may qualify for an EIC, but must file a tax return to get the credit. Those who are married, must file jointly to qualify. To file, fill out IRS Form 1040 or 1040A and attach the EIC form. People who were raising a child in their home in 2010, may be able to boost each paycheck during the year with Advance EIC. They should request form W-5 from their employer or call (800) 829-3676.

Links to various payment options are listed below. This listing is also available in an online brochure that is also available in Spanish.

Emergency Programs
Call 2-1-1. Get Help
Medical Emergency Protection
PeopleCare
State Emergency Relief (SER) Program
The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW)

Military Program
Military: Shut-off Protection on Active Duty

General Energy Assistance Programs
Budget Plan 
Payment Arrangements
Third Party Notification
State of Michigan Programs 

Tax Credits
Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC)
State Earned Income Tax Credit (SEIC) 

Income Qualified Programs
Affordable Rental Housing
Consolidated Vendoring Warrant Program
Home Heating Credit
Link-Up/Lifeline
Low Income Home Interest Loans
Low Income Weatherization
Shut-off Protection Plan (SPP)65+ (65 and over eligible regardless of income)
Winter Protection Plan (WPP)65+(65 and over eligible regardless of income)

Contact Us
Contacting Consumers Energy

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Resources To Use During the Heating Season

Posted on November 30, 2011. Filed under: Payment Assistance | Tags: , , , , , , |

With the heating season underway, here are some links to resources you can use in your community to help people identify payment assistance programs as well as ways to reduce their energy bill:

This is also a good time of year to remind people about natural gas safety with our new brochure that was included in November natural gas bills. For details on everything related to our natural gas service, visit our Natural Gas Resource Center.

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Michigan Home Heating Credit May Still Be Available to Some Residential Customers

Posted on September 6, 2011. Filed under: Payment Assistance | Tags: |

The Michigan Home Heating Credit can assist some residential customers with energy bills.

There’s still time for Michigan residents to get help paying their heating bills with the Michigan Home Heating Credit. If qualifying residential customers have not yet received the credit for this year, they can file for it through September 30, 2011.

The Home Heating Credit Claim form (MI-1040CR-7) is generally available wherever other tax forms are provided. They are also available at:

  • The Michigan Department of Treasury at 517-636-4486 or www.michigan.gov/taxes
  • Consumers Energy bill payment offices, www.consumersenergy.com/energyanswers, or 1-800-477-5050
  • Customers in Wayne and Oakland counties can get free filing assistance through the Accounting Aid Society at 1-866-673-0873

Applicants can get their annual heating cost, required on the form, by calling us at 1-800-477-5050.

Last year, nearly 473,000 Michigan residents received $80.6 million in aid through the Home Heating Credit program, which is funded by the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The Home Heating Credit can be applied to all heating costs, including propane and purchased firewood.  Applicants do not need to file a state tax return to receive this credit.  

Whitney Skeans, our customer assistance coordinator, advises customers to act now because of anticipated federal and state funding cuts “Though the 2011 credit is averaging about $135 per household, less than the 2010 average credit, we recognize that every bit helps,” she said.

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