Just a couple weeks ago, hundreds of AMP members wrote their legislators in Washington, D.C., to show their support for energy assistance on LIHEAP Action Day. If you were one of those members, thank you! (And if you’re still looking for more ways to support LIHEAP and other energy assistance programs, here are some quick tips.)
LIHEAP funding is critical for local and state programs that help low-income Michiganders in need of energy assistance, whether they are run by the state or local energy providers.
To help low-income households meet their energy needs, local energy providers offer help through two distinct kinds of energy assistance programs—crisis response and preventive assistance for those Michiganders living at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Line.
Crisis Response Programs
Shutoff Protection Plans
Both Consumers and DTE Energy offer plans to help customers avoid shutoffs, particularly during cold winter months. Shutoff protection plans (and the related Winter Protection Plan) assist low-income customers by:
In addition, there are also shutoff protection plans for active duty military personnel, payment agreements, and other options to help avoid shutoffs.
This fund, sponsored by Consumers Energy employees and administered by the Salvation Army, provides emergency energy assistance as well as aid for other expenses, such as medications, funeral expenses, and assistance to those with disabilities.
Consumers Affordable Resource for Energy (CARE) is a program offered by Consumers Energy that provides preventative energy assistance to low-income customers and seniors. To qualify, consumers must have a Consumers Energy account that is past due with an outstanding balance of no more than $3,000.
The CARE program helps low-income households control costs by:
Low Income Self-Sufficiency Program (LSP)
DTE Energy has pioneered a groundbreaking program that takes into account a qualifying customer’s “energy burden” (5-6% of their income) and assesses customers accordingly on their bills. This plan:
This comprehensive approach is reaching a large number of Michiganders in need and giving them the tools to improve their lives so that energy bills are less of a burden.
While both pieces of the puzzle are vital, prevention provides a more cost-effective long-term solution to addressing the issue before people find themselves in crisis. As Michigan evaluates its entire approach to energy assistance this year, AMP believes prevention and self-sufficiency need to be priorities for how energy assistance funds are used in our state.
What questions do you have about provider-sponsored energy assistance programs? Let us know.