With cool fall evenings, it’s a good time to promote two programs that help keep the heat on for Michigan residents, the Shut-off Protection Plan and the Winter Protection Plan. When your residents let us know they are struggling to pay their energy bill, we encourage them to participate in the Shut-off Protection Plan. Its main advantage, compared to the older Winter Protection Plan, is that it lets customers spread their unpaid balance over equal monthly payments and it provides year-round protection from shut-off.
Here are overviews of both protection plans.
This plan provides year round protection from shut-off and is available to customers with a household income at or below 200 percent of the federal income eligibility guidelines.
The plan requires:
• Initial down payment of 10 percent of your total bill
• Participating in a budget plan that spreads out your annual energy costs into equal payments plus equal monthly payments on your past-due balance
Winter Protection Plan
The Winter Protection Plan may protect low-income customers and seniors age 65 and older from service shut-off and high payments during the winter (Nov. 1 through March 31). Customers are responsible for electricity and natural gas used, but some of the costs can be deferred. Eligible low-income and senior customers may sign up for the Winter Protection Plan beginning Nov. 1.
• If you qualify, you’ll pay an initial down payment of 1/12 of your total bill. Each month you’ll pay 7 percent of your estimated annual bill along with a portion of any past-due amount. When the protection period ends March 31, you must pay your full monthly bill, plus part of the amount you owe from the winter months when you did not pay the full bill
• Participation does not relieve customers from the responsibility of paying for electricity and natural gas usage, but may prevent shut-off during the winter months. At the end of the protection period, both low-income and senior citizens participating in the plan must make arrangements with their utility company to pay any money owed before the start of the next protection period.
• You qualify for the plan if you meet at least one of the following requirements:
1. You have a household income at or below 150 percent of the federal income eligibility guidelines
2. You are age 65 or older
3. You receive Michigan Department of Human Services cash assistance (including Supplemental Security Income)
4. You receive food stamps
5. You receive Medicaid