CLEVELAND, Oct. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Dominion East Ohio reminds customers that available company payment plans and government energy assistance programs can help them restore or maintain natural gas service this winter. Customers who know they will not be able to maintain regular payments are urged to contact Dominion East Ohio immediately to inquire about payment plans and energy assistance programs. For additional information, customers can call Dominion East Ohio at 1-800-362-7557, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., weekdays.
Dominion East Ohio offers the following payment options to residential and small commercial customers (using less than 500 thousand cubic feet (MCF) a year):
- Budget Billing allows customers to pay a fixed budget amount each month, based on annual gas usage. Dominion East Ohio periodically reviews the budget amount and adjusts it, if necessary, so that the customer will not have a high balance or large credit at the end of the budget year. Customers should call Dominion East Ohio for more information.
- Current-Plus Plan: Customers with a past-due balance pay their current monthly bill, plus 1/6th of the total account balance at the time they enroll in the plan.
- The One-Ninth Plan allows customers to pay one-ninth of their total account each month plus a calculated budget amount.
- Under the One-Third Winter Heating Plan, customers pay one-third of their total account balance each month for bills that include gas used from November 1, 2015, through April 15, 2016.
- Short–Term Extension grants up to five additional days to pay before the next bill date.
Medical Certification Program can delay a shutoff when it would be especially dangerous to the health of a permanent member of the household. It allows time to get financial help or make payment arrangements. It does not reduce the amount owed. A medical certification form can be requested by calling 1-800-362-7557. A licensed medical professional must sign the form. A medical professional can apply by phone, provided that Dominion East Ohio receives the written notification within seven days. If gas service is off, the signed form must be returned within 21 days of the shut-off date to restore service.
Government Assistance Programs
The following programs are available for income-eligible customers. Customers can apply for all programs with one application at www.energyhelp.ohio.gov. Applications also are available at post offices and libraries or by calling 1-800-282-0880.
- The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has issued its annual Winter Reconnection Order, which allows any Dominion East Ohio residential customer to restore service or to avoid a shutoff between October 19, 2015, and April 15, 2016, by paying $175. Under the order, customers, who have had service disconnected, can have their service restored by paying the amount they owe Dominion, or $175, whichever is less.
A reconnect fee of $33, plus applicable taxes, also will be billed to the account if the service has been disconnected. There is no income eligibility requirement to use this program, and customers will be enrolled in a payment plan to help pay off any additional past-due balance. The reconnection order can be used only once between October 19, 2015, and April 15, 2016.
- PIPP Plus: To qualify for this special payment plan, developed by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, a customer's yearly gross household income can be up to 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Under PIPP Plus, participating customers may maintain their natural gas service by paying 6 percent of their total gross monthly household income, or $10, whichever is greater.
PIPP Plus has special benefits for participating customers. Each time customers make their required PIPP Plus monthly payments in full by the due date, Dominion East Ohio will credit their accounts for the rest of that month's current charges, plus a 1/24th credit toward their prior account balances. After 24 months of on-time and in-full PIPP Plus payments, their accounts would become current.
Along with lower payments and balance crediting, PIPP Plus also carries the following responsibilities:
- Customers will have 30 days from their PIPP Plus anniversary date to make up any missed payments, or they will be removed from PIPP Plus. NOTE: Income-eligible customers interested in re-enrolling or maintaining participation in PIPP Plus must pay any remaining plan arrears in excess of $175 with their first bill following the $175 payment.
- If participating customers do not re-verify their gross monthly household income once every 12 months, they will be removed from PIPP Plus. Customers can re-verify sooner if their household size or income changes.
- Customers who no longer meet PIPP Plus income guidelines, and still have a balance, can enroll in the Graduate PIPP program. This plan allows any outstanding balance to be paid within 12 months of leaving the PIPP Plus plan. Incentive credits also are applied for on-time and in-full payments.
The PIPP Plus maximum yearly household gross income levels for the 2015-2016 heating season are higher than last year. For example, for a single person, the maximum income limit is $17,655; $23,895 for two people; $30,135 for three; $36,375 for four; $42,615 for five; $48,855 for six; $55,095 for seven; and $61,335 for eight. Add $6,240 for each additional person.
Other governmental energy assistance programs include:
- Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) provides a one-time heating bill credit during the winter heating season. The Winter Crisis Program (WCP), previously known as Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program (E-HEAP), provides a one-time grant to help avoid a shutoff or to restore service once between November 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016. HEAP and WCP are available to customers whose yearly gross income is up to 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
To qualify, a customer's yearly gross household income can be up to $20,597.50 for one person; $27,877.50 for two; $35,157.50 for three; $42,437.50 for four; $49,717.50 for five; $56,997.50 for six; $64,277.50 for seven; and $71,557.50 for eight. Add $7,280 for each additional person. Local community action agencies can assist with emergency payments to help avoid disconnection.
Customers can call 1-800-282-0880 for an appointment. Call 1-800-282-0880 for application information or go to www.energyhelp.ohio.gov.
- Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP) is a federally funded program that provides grants for home weatherization projects to customers whose incomes are no more than 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines. To qualify, a customer's yearly gross household income can be up to $23,540 for one person; $31,860 for two; $40,180 for three; $48,500 for four; $56,820 for five; $65,140 for six; $73,460 for seven; and $81,780 for eight. Add $8,320 for each additional person.
Dominion East Ohio Assistance/Conservation Programs
Dominion EnergyShare is a last-resort program after all other state and federal assistance is exhausted. The Salvation Army administers the Dominion-funded program. It is available to Dominion East Ohio customers with a shutoff off notice or who have been disconnected. Applications can be made on or after December 1. Customers should contact their local Salvation Army Corps for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Dominion's Housewarming Program also provides weatherization assistance to help eligible customers reduce their energy usage. For information, call the Cleveland Housing Network (CHN) at 1-888-377-3774.
For more information about any program, visit www.dom.com or call 1-800-362-7557, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Dominion East Ohio is a unit of Dominion (NYSE: D), one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 24,400 megawatts of generation, 12,200 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline, and 6,490 miles of electric transmission lines. Dominion operates one of the nation's largest natural gas storage systems with 928 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves utility and retail energy customers in 14 states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's website at www.dom.com or Dominion Energy Solutions www.DominionEnergy.com
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SOURCE Dominion East Ohio