Columbia Gas offers winter bill assistanceWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Columbia Gas of Ohio announced Oct. 27 that it has more than $2.7 million available to income-eligible customers who need assistance paying their natural gas bills this winter.
These fuel funds are in addition to established public energy assistance options, such as the federal Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and Ohio’s PIPP Plus program.
The $2.7 million includes:
Columbia’s Auction Fuel Fund, which contains $600,000 for the 2010-11 winter heating season. This fund can provide up to $250 per heating season and is a fund of last resort for families who have exhausted all other available emergency assistance programs. Households at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level qualify for this fund.
Columbia’s Utility Fuel Fund has $1.8 million available until funds are exhausted. This fund offers a one-time assistance payment of up to $250 per heating season to maintain or restore service. Customers do not need to be disconnected or facing disconnection to qualify. Households between 175 and 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level qualify for this fund.
The Winter Crisis Fuel Fund, with $312,500 available, is a fund of last resort that can provide up to $175 to customers who are disconnected or threatened with disconnection. Households at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level qualify for this fund.
Eligible Lucas County residents should contact the Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo Inc. (EOPA) at 866-504-7392. Residents of Wood, Seneca, Ottawa and Sandusky counties should contact WSOS Community Action Commission Inc. at 419-334-8911. Columbia customers who aren’t sure which agency to contact may call the Columbia Customer Contact Center at 1-800-344-4077 for information on where to apply.
Although natural gas prices are well below the record levels of two years ago, Columbia Gas of Ohio President Jack Partridge said he understands many customers are feeling the effects of the weak economy.
“With all of the energy assistance programs available, there is no reason for any of our customers to go without heat this winter,” Partridge said in a news release.
Columbia Gas of Ohio is the largest natural gas utility in the state, serving about 1.4 million customers in 61 of Ohio’s 88 counties. The company says interrupting a customer’s service is always the last resort, and the company will work with people to avoid disconnection.
At the first sign they may have problems paying their natural gas bills, customers should contact Columbia Gas of Ohio at 1-800-344-4077, where a representative can set up a payment plan or refer the customer to an assistance program.
For more information, visit www.columbiagasohio.com.