What can I do if I receive a utility shut off notice during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The natural gas and electric service providers are planning to begin normal disconnection for non-payment soon.
Many municipal utility suppliers, like Cleveland Water and Cleveland Public Power (CPP) have temporarily stopped disconnection of residential services for non-payment. If you have received a disconnection notice for non-payment from any utility supplier DO NOT IGNORE IT. Call the utility company to see if they have an affordable extended payment plan. The phone number for your utility company is on the billing statement for that utility. Cleveland Water can be reached at 216.664.3130. Cleveland Public Power can be reached at 216.664.4600.
How do I get assistance with utility bills during the COVID-19 pandemic?
To apply for assistance with utility bills you can call “211” for a referral to your nearest local Community Action Agency (CAA). The agency will assist you with applying for available utility programs and resources in that community. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, many CAAs are conducting appointments by phone and are requiring all documents be provided at that time.
Community Action Agencies by County
Ashtabula County Community Action Agency
6920 Austinburg Road, Ashtabula, OH 44004
Phone: 440.997.5957 Ext. 512
CHN Housing Partners
2999 Payne Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114
Council for Economic Opportunities (CEOGC)
2203 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114
- For Summer Crisis and Winter HEAP, call (216) 350-8008 or visit https://ceogc.itfrontdesk.com to make an appointment.
Geauga County Lifeline
12375 Kinsman Road, Building H/Suite 17
Newbury, OH 44065
Lake County Lifeline
One Victoria Place, Suite 265A
Painesville, OH 44077
440.350.9160 or 440.354.2148
Lorain County Community Action Agency
936 Broadway Avenue
Lorain, OH 4405
- The information and appointment line is available 24 hours a day at 440.538.6999. You can also book an appointment online by clicking here.
Are there any programs to help with electric bills or cooling my home this summer during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes. The Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program-Summer Crisis Program (HEAP SCP) has been extended until September 30, 2020. This program provides air conditioners and payment towards electric bills in the summer season for our community’s most vulnerable residents. The HEAP SCP runs July 1 through September 30, 2020.
Through the HEAP SCP, eligible households can receive a one-time payment on electric bills of either $500 for an investor owned utility or $800 for a municipal electric utility, AND/OR an air conditioner or fan.
Eligible households must have a 90-day gross income that falls at or below 175% of the federal poverty level AND meets one of the following eligibility criteria:
- either has a household member who is over the age of 60,
- provides original physician documentation of medical necessity,
- have a disconnection notice,
- have a household member who has tested positive for COVID-19,
- or needs help paying their first PIPP payment or PIPP default.
Are there any programs that will help me keep my heat this winter during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes. There are two programs that help with winter heat-- the Winter Reconnect Order and Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) Winter Crises Program.
Ohio’s electric and natural gas customers have the opportunity to use the Winter Reconnect Order (WRO) during the winter heating season from October 5, 2020 through April 15, 2021 to reconnect or to avoid disconnection of their utilities. The WRO applies only to Ohio’s investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities and does not apply to municipally owned utilities or rural electric co-ops. To apply, contact your utility company. The order allows any electric or natural gas customer of an investor owned utility to avoid disconnection or to reconnect their service for $175, even if the customer owes more and cannot afford to pay the entire balance. The customers may also be charged up to $36 at the time of reconnection. Customers owing more than $175 will then need to make payment arrangements with the utility for the rest of their past due amount. For some customers this may include enrolling in Ohio’s Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP Plus). The WRO does not have any income restrictions.
If a customer is eligible for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) which is based on 175% of the federal poverty guidelines, they may be able to use the HEAP Winter Crisis Program to secure the $175 required to maintain or restore their utility service under the WRO rules. Consumers may only use the WRO once during the winter heating season as defined above. If both the gas and electric utilities are in disconnect status (disconnected or with a disconnect notice) the customer may use their one-time use of the WRO to apply to both utilities, splitting the $175 between the two.
It is always recommended to speak with a representative of the utility company or your local community action agency before using the WRO to ensure that the utility understands the $175 payment is being used in accordance with the WRO. Otherwise it is possible that the money may be applied to a customer’s past due account without receiving the benefit and protection of the WRO. If a customer is using the HEAP Winter Crisis Program, the community action agency will coordinate with the utility. To find the community action agency in your area, search by county at http://oacaa.org. If a customer is not working through the community action agency and they would like someone to assist them in talking to their utility company, customers can call the PUCO at 1.800.686.7826.
Investor owned utility companies offer the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) to allow customers to pay a percentage of their monthly income to maintain their utility service. The program varies slightly by utility company but allows customers an option for maintaining their utility service when a household budget is not sufficient to cover their entire usage. The PIPP program has income eligibility criteria of 150% of the federal poverty level. You can also now apply for these programs over the phone. Visit EnergyHelp.Ohio.gov for more information or call 1.800.282.0880 to begin your application.