HEAP can assist families in winter


By Vince Parisi - Guest columnist



The Holiday season brings many joys, but it also means that winter is quickly approaching, and with it, colder temperatures.

Each year though, many Ohioans struggle financially with heating bills during the winter months, and utility providers like Columbia Gas work to connect individuals with federal, state, or local income-eligible payment assistance programs to help them pay their bills and maintain their utility services.

One such program is the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). HEAP is a federally funded program that provides eligible Ohioans financial assistance with their home energy bills. This one-time benefit is applied directly to the customer’s utility bill or bulk fuel bill.

Last year, more than 131,800 Columbia Gas customers received funding to help manage their energy costs. Applications for HEAP can be started by visiting EnergyHelp.ohio.gov, but must be completed at your local energy assistance provider.

HEAP Winter Crisis Program

The Home Energy Assistance Winter Crisis Program (HEAP Winter Crisis Program) helps income eligible Ohioans that are threatened with disconnection, have been disconnected or have less than a 25 percent supply of bulk fuel in their tank maintain their utility service. The program runs from November 1 until March 31. Ohio households, serviced by a Public Utilities Commission of Ohio-regulated utility, must sign up for the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP) or another payment plan in order to receive emergency benefits.

Who is Eligible for the HEAP Winter Crisis Program?

Ohioans with a household income at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines that are facing disconnection, have been disconnected or have less than a 25 percent supply of bulk fuel in their tank are eligible for the program. If your household has more than eight members, you can add $7,945 to the income eligibility threshold.

A household applying for HEAP must report total gross household income for the past 30 days (12 months is preferred) for all members, except wage or salary income earned by dependent minors under 18 years old. Both homeowners and renters are eligible for assistance.

Everyone knows someone who may need help with their utility bills, whether it’s an elderly neighbor, a friend, or family member. No one should have to worry about staying safe and warm during the winter months, and utility providers like Columbia Gas can help customers navigate through the various programs and financial aid services available to them. We’re here to help.

To find a list of local energy assistance providers or to see if you qualify for the program call 211 or Columbia Gas at 1-800-344-4077.

A complete list of energy assistance programs and payment plan options available to Columbia Gas customers can be found at ColumbiaGasOhio.com/Assistance.

By Vince Parisi

Guest columnist

Vince Parisi is the president and chief operating officer of Columbia Gas of Ohio.

Vince Parisi is the president and chief operating officer of Columbia Gas of Ohio.