MPSC, MDHHS announce 2018-19 MEAP grant awards
for low-income energy assistance, self-sufficiency
LANSING, Mich. – Nine service agencies in Michigan were awarded a total of $54.3 million in grants earmarked for low-income assistance with heating and electric bills and to teach energy self-sufficiency, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced today.
Michiganders can apply for the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) through the MI Bridges website at www.michigan.gov/mibridges or by filling out a paper application at local MDHHS offices. MDHHS is also making paper applications available to MEAP grantee locations upon request.
There are two important changes in MEAP this year: All households seeking energy assistance will use MDHHS applications, which will streamline the process, and residents can apply for aid year-round, not just from Nov.1 to May 31.
The nine service agencies that received grants and the amount allocated:
The Salvation Army, Grand Rapids, $11.4 million.
TrueNorth Community Services, Fremont, $10.5 million.
The Heat and Warmth Fund, Detroit, $8.2 million.
United Way of Southeastern Michigan, Detroit, $6.75 million.
Michigan Community Action, Okemos, $6 million.
United Way of Jackson County, Jackson, $5 million.
Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Detroit, $4.1 million.
Superior Watershed Partnership, Marquette, $2.4 million.
Barry County United Way, $150,000.
MEAP grant agencies will serve as MI Bridges navigators to help applicants with payments that can be used to meet home heating and electricity costs on primary residences. Assistance can cover full or partial payment of one or more bills for electric, natural gas, propane, heating oil, or any other deliverable fuel used to provide heat. Grant agencies will also provide energy self-sufficiency services, such as weatherization improvements, to reduce energy waste in homes.
More than 81,400 households in Michigan received MEAP assistance from Oct. 1, 2017, through this past July. Of those, nearly 17,600 have a family members age 60 or older, more than 21,800 have a child who is 5 or younger, and nearly 31,500 households report having one member with a disability.
MEAP grant agencies provide services that enable participants to become or move toward becoming energy self-sufficient, including helping to pay energy bills on time, assisting in budgeting for energy expenses, and instructing participants in how to use energy services to optimize savings.
The agencies also assist households that qualify for enrollment in utility affordable payment plans, such as DTE Energy’s Low-Income Self-Sufficiency Plan (LSP), Consumers Energy’s Consumers Affordable Resource for Energy (CARE) program, and SEMCO’s Monthly Assistance Program (MAP).
The MEAP grants are funded by the state Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund (LIEAF) monthly per-meter surcharge assessed by participating utilities. This year’s surcharge is unchanged at 93 cents per meter. Additional grant money comes from the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Energy assistance is also available through the State Emergency Relief (SER) program at MDHHS. SER offers immediate assistance to someone facing conditions of extreme hardship or emergencies threatening health and safety. SER helps low-income households that usually can make ends meet, but occasionally need help when an emergency arises. Money is available to pay for utility bills only when a service shutoff has occurred or there is a threat of a shutoff.
Residents who need assistance with energy services should contact an area MEAP grantee, call 2-1-1, or go to mi211.org for information.
For more information about MEAP, click here.
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