Energy Assistance for Eligible Michiganders
Local energy providers are working to protect seniors and income-eligible households that may have been impacted by COVID-19. However, even without the loss of income brought on by this pandemic, all too many seniors and low-income households need help with their energy bills.
No Michiganders should have to go without reliable energy. That’s why local providers—in coordination with private agencies, the state government, and local charities—work to provide an array of energy assistance programs for eligible households.
There are two main areas of focus for these energy assistance programs:
- Self-sufficiency programs that help families manage their energy use and costs over the long-term.
- Crisis intervention programs that provide one-time financial assistance when emergencies hit.
The Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) and state-run programs are federally funded, at least in part, by LIHEAP—the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Other programs are funded directly by Michigan, private charities, and local energy providers.
The goal of self-sufficiency programs is to give families and households struggling to manage their energy bills the tools they need to address the root causes of late payments or overdue accounts. By proactively addressing these issues, self-sufficiency programs help avoid a costly cycle of shutoffs and reconnections that makes it harder for families to really catch up or get ahead. These self-sufficiency programs include:
- Michigan Home Heating Credit (HHC) gives low-income residents credits toward their energy bills according to need. It’s administered by the Michigan Department of Human Services.
- The Low Income Self-Sufficiency Program (LSP) helps low-income families budget their energy bills better, using fixed monthly payments. It’s a DTE Energy program.
- The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)provides energy audits and energy efficiency improvements to low-income homeowners and renters — such as wall and attic insulation, air leakage control and dryer venting. It’s administered by the Michigan Department of Human Services.
- True North provides a wide array of services, including assistance with energy bills and energy conservation initiatives. It’s a community assistance program that works with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Crisis Intervention Programs
Despite the importance of self-sufficiency programs, there will always be times—like the current COVID-19 pandemic—when circumstances beyond our control arise, creating crisis situation in which a household needs immediate relief or assistance to avoid shutoffs or emergency situations. These programs generally provide assistance for heating, fuel, electricity, or home repairs. Some crisis intervention programs include:
- The State Emergency Relief (SER) program provides crisis intervention, including delivery of fuel or energy-related home repairs for low-income Michiganders with past-due or shutoff notices. It’s a LIHEAP program administered by the Michigan Department of Human Services.
- People Care offers emergency assistance for energy bills for those experiencing a crisis. It’s a Consumers Energy program administered by the Salvation Army.
- The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) assists low-income Michiganders experiencing an energy crisis and works toward long-term solutions. It’s an independent, non-profit organization.
- Winter Protection Plans protect qualifying senior and low-income Michiganders from shutoffs November 1 through March 31. They’re offered by both DTE Energy and Consumers Energy.
- Shutoff Protection Plans allow eligible low-income households and seniors to divide past-due balances into equal payments while providing protection from shutoffs. They’re offered by both DTE Energy and Consumers Energy.
If you know anyone who is having trouble paying their energy bills, be sure to share this energy assistance blog to let them know help is available.