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Grant funding to help low-income customers pay home heating bills announced for 2021-2022
December 02, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Dec. 2, 2021
Nine community service agencies have received funding to help Michiganders who fall behind on household energy bills as another home heating season kicks in.
The agencies were recently approved for $54.5 million in Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) grants by the Michigan Public Service Commission and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The MEAP program is funded by the Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund (LIEAF), which raises money through a monthly surcharge assessed by participating utilities, this year set by the MPSC at 87 cents. Additional funding for MEAP grants comes from the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Listed below are the grant recipients, the amount each received, and their service areas:
- Barry County United Way: $150,000, Barry County.
- MDHHS Bureau of Community Action and Economic Opportunity: $6.39 million, statewide.
- Society of St. Vincent de Paul of the Archdiocese of Detroit: $4.663 million; multiple counties throughout Michigan.
- Superior Watershed Partnership: $2.46 million, 15 Upper Peninsula counties, and multiple northern-Lower Peninsula counties.
- The Heat and Warmth Fund: $6.724 million, statewide.
- The Salvation Army: $11.263 million, statewide.
- TrueNorth Community Services: $11.2 million, statewide.
- United Way for Southeastern Michigan: $6.4 million, statewide.
- United Way of Jackson County: $5.25 million, statewide.
Grant recipient agencies emphasize helping the lowest-income households that have the highest energy burden. More than 52,000 households in Michigan received MEAP assistance in the funding period that ended Sept. 30.
MEAP grant agencies also serve as MI Bridges navigators to help applicants with payments that can be used to meet home heating and electricity costs at 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.
The MPSC urges customers struggling to afford their energy costs because of the pandemic or other reasons to be proactive. Many utilities offer flexible payment plans. Contact your utility company or propane supplier as soon as you know you will be unable to pay your bill on time, and don't wait for a shutoff notice or put yourself in a situation where you might run out of fuel.
If you need assistance:
- Call 211 or go to www.mi211.org to learn about agencies that may assist with your energy bill.
- State Emergency Relief may help low-income households pay part of their heating or electric bills, assist in keeping utilities in service, or have service restored, assistance that's available year round. Apply on MI Bridges or call your local MDHHS Office for information. You'll be required to verify your income, so you may want to work with your utility or 211 first on tips to navigate this process. Households must apply for SER assistance prior to receiving any MEAP services.
Michiganders can take steps to cut home energy costs by reducing energy waste and smarter use of energy:
- Clean furnace filters allow furnaces to run more efficiently, so check yours and change them monthly or as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Install a programmable thermostat and save on heating costs by lowering temperatures during daytime hours. Dressing for cold weather and turning down the thermostat another degree or two helps save money.
- Seal air leaks around windows, doors, or utility access points.
- Schedule a home energy assessment to identify ways to cut energy waste/ Rebates on heating, ventilation and air conditioning, appliances, lighting, insulation and other improvements are available through utilities.
- Go to the MPSC's Be Winterwise webpage for more information, or check out additional recommendations on reducing energy bills from the U.S. Department of Energy.
For more information about MEAP, visit the MPSC's MEAP page. For information about the MPSC, visit www.Michigan.gov/MPSC, sign up for its monthly newsletter or other listservs, or follow the Commission on Twitter or LinkedIn.
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