CT Legal Services: Sign-up for Shut-Off Protection and Energy Assistance Now, Utility Shut-Offs Resume Beginning 9/15/21

  EnergyAssistance 2021-2022    

    UPDATES

Utility Shut-Offs are Currently Set to Resume Beginning September 15, 2021.  Get Signed Up for Shut-Off Protection and Energy Assistance NOW!

  1. UniteCT – Rent, and/or Electric Utility PaymentsFor tenants              and all eligible electric utility customers affected by the pandemic: Up to $1,500 toward last six months of electric bills. Up to $15,000 in rental assistance. www.bit.ly/UniteCT
  2. In response to the pandemic, UniteCT is an eviction prevention and electric utility assistance program.  The program is administered by the CT Department of Housing using Federal funding.
  3. It is available to CT residents with incomes below 80% of the HUD area median income who have either a rental or electric utility unpaid balance due to COVID-related reasons.  Applications can only be made on-line at www.bit.ly/UniteCT Up to $1,500 per household is available for electric utility payments.
  4. There are area “resource centers” set up to help electric customers complete their applications and upload documents such as their electric bills.  The UniteCT website has a list and contact information for these “centers”. 
  1.  CEAP (Connecticut Energy Assistance Program): Connecticut’s annual heating assistance program.  Available to all heating customers (electric heat, gas heat, oil, kerosene, coal and other deliverable fuels). Up to $1,015 basis benefit.
  2. CEAP is paid through federal funding.  The program is administered by the CT Department of Social Services (DSS).
  3. It is available to heating customers with incomes up to 60% of the state median income.
  4. CEAP monies are paid to the utilities and other heating vendors directly.
  5. There may be additional benefits above the basic benefit amount.
  6. Contact 2-1-1 United Way for a referral to nearest Community Action Agency for help applying for CEAP.
  1. Financial “Hardship” (Winter Shut-Off Protection): Shut-off protection is available NOW and from November 1, 2021 to May 1, 2022. If not already coded for COVID hardship, GET CODED NOW!
  2. The following electric and gas customers may be eligible for winter shut-off protection:

Those receiving local, state of federal public assistance;

If sole source of financial support is: Social Security, Veterans’ Benefits;

If head of household is unemployed and income is less than 300% of FPL;

If seriously ill or has a family member who is seriously ill;

If income falls below 125% of FPL;

If circumstances threaten a deprivation of food and the necessities of life if payment is required.

  • Customer must be coded “hardship” with the utility to get this shut-off protection – it is not automatic.
  • Customer may contact his/her utility or a community action agency to get coded.
  • Customer is not relieved of paying the bill eventually, but cannot get shut-off during this time period.
  1. Protection from Shut-Off Due to Medical Condition

Customer’s doctor can access the utility internet portal at request of patient to certify that patient or a family member has “serious illness” or “life threatening condition”.

  • “Serious illness” – Customer cannot be shut off during winter shut-off moratorium, November 1 to May 1.
  • “Life threatening” – Customer may not be shut off for any period of time that doctor certifies customer needs the protection.  Doctor may have to re-certify customer’s eligibility for shut-off protection at least one time per year.
  • Medical shut-off protections do not relieve customers of their responsibility to pay utility bills.  Utility customers may be required to enter into payment agreements with the utilities, but during the protected period, cannot be threatened with shut-off for nonpayment.
  • Most doctors know how to use the utility computer portals to certify a patient for the protection.
  1. Matching Payment Plan (MPP)
  2. MPP – Available to eligible electric (heat) and gas (heat) customers.  a) Customer applies for CEAP energy assistance. b) An affordable monthly budget payment for customer is determined (may be as low as $50). c) Customer makes a minimum number of monthly payments. d.) Utility matches CEAP energy assistance. e) Utility also matches customer’s completed monthly payments.  MPP can be year-round – two phases.  Apply through Community Action Agencies (CAAs), call 2-1-1 United Way for closest CAA.  Utilities hire CAAs to do the intake and the payment calculations.
  1. Arrearage Forgiveness Programs
  2. NEW START – Eversource program to eliminate arrearage for all eligible (60%) SMI electric customers.  Customer makes monthly payments based on averaged usage; for every month payment is made, arrearage is reduced by 1/12th until there is a zero balance.  The match is made at the end of after 12 months of successful monthly usage payments by the customer.  Match up to $20,000 arrearage per year.  Customer must have an arrearage of at least $100, and the arrearage must be at least 60 days old.
  3. MaPP– United Illuminating (UI) program to eliminate arrearages for customers who heat with electricity.  Customers must first pay 20% or the arrearage and make monthly payments.  They will receive credits toward the total arrearage over 12 months.  Customer must have an balance of at least $500 which must be at least 90 days old.
  4. Contact utilities directly.
  1. COVID-19 Payment Plan
  2. 24-month repayment plan available to all electric and gas utility customers.  Contact utility directly.  Currently available through September 30, 2021.
  1. Reasonable Repayment Plan
  2. Affordable repayment plans are a right of utility customers.  Contact utility directly.  If plan offered is not affordable, ask for other options.  If customer has a change of circumstances and can no longer afford the repayment plan, he/she can ask for modification.  If no agreement with utility can be made on a reasonable plan, customer can ask for help from PURA at 800-382-4586.

Prepared and distributed by Wendy W. Wanchak, Attorney, Connecticut Legal Services, Inc. (860) 456-1761; Bonnie Roswig, Attorney, The Center for Children’s’ Advocacy, (860) 545-8581