Announces Expanded Home Heating Assistance for Low-Income Ohioans
Governor Urges All Ohioans to Conserve Energy This Winter
COLUMBUS (October 6, 2005) - With the expected high cost of utility bills in the coming winter months, Ohio Governor Bob Taft today took steps that will enable the state to help more low-income Ohioans keep the heat on this winter.
"With heating bills on the rise this winter, we are working to protect our most vulnerable citizens from having their heat shut off," Taft said. "This new program, coupled with a common-sense weatherization and conservation strategy, will ensure that Ohioans can heat their homes and make ends meet without the risk of discontinued service."
To help Ohioans through this winter season, Governor Taft today:
Authorized by executive order that $75 million in Temporary Aid for
Needy Families (TANF) funds be used to supplement the $100 million in the
Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), providing a 10 percent increase in the average benefits Ohioans received in 2004. The program will provide an average of $430 per household to help pay heating bills this winter.
Increased income eligibility from 151 percent to 175 percent of the poverty level, allowing the state to serve approximately 70,000 more households than the 330,000 served in 2004 under HEAP. This population, which historically has not been served, will see an average benefit of $391.
Instructed the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and the Ohio
Departments of Development, Job and Family Services and Aging to conduct
regional briefings to educate Ohioans on conservation and weatherization
strategies, and ensure that those eligible know how to take advantage of
the new HEAP/TANF program. To this end, the Department of Development will conduct a TV, radio and Internet public service awareness campaign.
Last week, Governor Taft joined 27 other governors in signing a letter to leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee seeking additional emergency funding through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which funds Ohio's HEAP. In the letter dated September 28, 2005, the governors urged members of Congress to recognize that covering dramatic increases in natural gas and heating oil prices will pose an immense challenge for citizens as winter arrives.
The new HEAP/TANF program will be administered through the Ohio Department
of Development (ODOD), which currently oversees the HEAP program. For more
information on eligibility and how to apply, please contact the ODOD's Home
Energy Assistance Program toll-free at 1-800-282-0880 or for TDD
Current State of Ohio efforts for residential users:
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) issued a Winter Reconnection Order that regulated gas and electric utilities must allow customers to reconnect or avoid disconnection by payment of no more than $175 plus up to a $20 reconnection fee. A customer can only use the connection order once during October 17, 2005 thru April 14, 2006, and must enroll in a payment plan to be eligible.
Both ODOD and the PUCO produce and distribute educational materials that cover conservation and energy efficiency for gas and electric usages. These materials can be found at www.odod.state.oh.us/cdd/oee/ and www.puco.ohio.gov.
Weatherization and electric baseload services are available to low-income citizens through the federally funded Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP) and the universal service fund program Electric Partnership Program (EPP) administered through ODOD.
Funding for non low-income Ohioans is available through the Energy
Loan Fund and limited grant funds are available for renewable energy
projects such as solar and wind. Additionally, reduced interest rate loans
are available to low income tax credit projects that include an approved
efficiency package as part of the construction. For more information, see