LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn is encouraging Southeast Michigan residents struggling with winter heating bills to take advantage of several assistance programs offered through the state, utility companies or charitable organizations.
“Michigan winters can be harsh and with another one nearly here, I want to remind area families that help with heating bills may be available,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “First, if you are unable to pay your bills, please contact the utility company ASAP and explain the situation. Being proactive could help keep the heat on and save your life.”
The Winter Protection Plan safeguards seniors and low-income gas and electric customers from service shutoffs and high utility bills from Nov. 1 to March 31. It allows eligible customers to avoid shutoffs while paying nothing or just a small percentage of their annual bill during the protection period. To apply, residents should contact their natural gas or utility company.
“It is important to remember that this is a deferment plan, not a financial assistance program,” Zorn said. “It is meant to ease the burden of high utility bills in the winter. However, immediate help may be available if you are facing conditions of extreme hardship or emergency.”
The State Emergency Relief Program offers financial assistance for low-income residents who are normally able to make ends meet but may need help due to an unexpected emergency. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/heatingassistance. Residents can also contact their local Department of Health and Human Services office at (517) 264-6300 in Lenawee County and 734-243-7200 in Monroe County.
“Many nonprofit and community organizations also have programs to help ensure that Michigan residents will not have to worry about how they are going to keep their families warm during the cold winter,” Zorn said.
When funding is available, county programs offer assistance with electric, gas and deliverable fuels like propane. For more information in Monroe County, contact the program coordinator at 734-241-2775 ext. 233 or visit www.monroecountyop.org/emergency-services.html and click on Utilities Assistance. In Lenawee County, contact the program coordinator at 517-263-7861.
The Heat And Warmth Fund (THAW) is a leading provider of utility assistance for Michigan residents in need. Since its inception in 1985, THAW has distributed more than $160 million in assistance to more than 223,000 Michigan households. For more information, visit www.thawfund.org.