In the wake of today’s tragedy in Central Toledo, and as temperatures remain cold, Columbia Gas of Ohio reminds customers that assistance for natural gas bills is still readily available.
The winter heating season officially ends on April 15, 2011. Until that time, customers may utilize a $175 payment to restore or maintain service. This is a one-time option and there is no income qualification.
Should the customer not have $175, the funds are available through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), administered locally at the Economic Opportunity Planning association (EOPA).
EOPA, located at 505 Hamilton, has open walk-in hours daily from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Additionally, the agency will be open Saturday, March 26th, from 8 a.m. to noon for walk-ins.
Of course, at the first sign they may have problems paying their natural gas bills, customers should contact Columbia Gas at 1-800-344-4077.
“Helping maintain a safe, reliable source of home heating is a priority for Columbia Gas,” says Chris Kozak, Columbia Gas of Ohio Communications and Community Relations Manager. “We will work with customers to try to ensure service is not interrupted, but we first need to hear from them that there is a need.”
In October of 2010, at the start of the winter heating season, Columbia Gas announced that more than $2.7 million was available to income-eligible customers for assistance with paying their natural gas bills. Many of these funds are still available.
These fuel funds are in addition to established public energy assistance options, including Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and Ohio’s PIPP Plus program.
The $2.7 million includes:
-The Columbia’s Auction Fuel Fund contains $600,000 for the 2010-11 winter heating season. It is a fund of last resort for families who have exhausted all other available emergency assistance programs, and provides up to $250 per heating season. Households at or below 200% Federal Poverty Level qualify for this fund.
-Columbia’s Utility Fuel Fund has $1.8 million available until the funds are exhausted. It 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% Federal Poverty Level qualify for this fund.
-The Winter Crisis Fuel Fund, with $312,500 available, is a fund of last resort that provides up to $175 to customers who are disconnected or threatened with disconnection. Households at or below 200% Federal Poverty Level qualify for this fund.
Eligible Lucas County residents may contact the Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo, Inc. (EOPA) at 866-504-7392; Residents of Wood, Seneca, Ottawa and Sandusky counties may 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.