Energy, heating assistance available for UP residents

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Tonya Swenor, Program Manager at the Superior Watershed Partnership says her agency is one of 9 grantees to receive a portion of the larger $54.5 million grant helping U.P. residents cut heating costs.

Superior Watershed Partnership is one of 9 grantees to receive a portion of the larger $54.5 million grant helping U.P. residents cut heating costs. (WLUC Photo)

“We have been awarded $4.6 million this year to execute this grant to help a couple thousand families in the U.P.," Swenor said.

Their goal is to assist qualifying residents with their energy bills and helping them become more self-sufficient in the process.

"We don't just pay the bills. We help try to identify areas in the home where you can reduce your energy consumption. We have affordable payment plans for SEMCO, UPPCO and DTE. So if a client is qualified, we'll put them on a monthly payment plan for 24 months. We pay part of the bill, they pay part of the bills," Swenor said.

They can also help with a one-time assistance payment.

"So a client can come in any time they have past due charges on their bills for their heat and electric." Swenor said.

But you have to have already applied for that assistance via one of several avenues.

Eric Ackerman, crew member from the Energy Conservation Corps, can actually inspect your entire home for common problems.

"Most houses in the U.P. are very old. A lot of them are old and haven't been able to be upgraded in any way. So we're looking at windows and old single-pane windows and that kind of stuff. We can do calking around the frame. We carry window plastic. We put it up for them if they can't," he said.

They'll check around doors, in attics, and basements and issue a 1 to 10 score based on their findings so you know where you stand, and how to correct those issues.

"We'll check the water heater to see if their pipes are wrapped, to see what temperature they're set at," Ackerman said. "Most people have them set too high."

They also identify old, outdated appliances and can refer homeowners to get them updates.

"Our motto is every little bit helps. So everything we do is free, especially the insulation. That's a big one," Ackerman said.

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