Funding available through low-income energy assistance program

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Low-income Upper Michigan residents can soon get energy assistance funds.

Help with heating and electric bills, affordable payment plans and self-sufficiency services include: energy education, financial counseling, free home energy score assessments and free solar panel installation for up to five qualified households.

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS), approved Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) grants totaling $54,500,000 to 9 organizations for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2019.

The Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP) was awarded $2,460,000 to provide energy assistance program services to low-income households throughout the 15 counties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP) will enter the 7th year in the MEAP as a Navigation and Referral Partner for the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP).

Households who present with an energy crisis will initially apply for the State Emergency Relief (SER) program, either directly with the MDHHS or with assistance from the Superior Watershed Partnership Michigan Energy Assistance Program or project partners, and MDHHS will determine eligibility for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assistance.

MEAP strives to incorporate customer accountability and provide incentives for positive actions by the customer for more responsible bill payment and energy usage. Therefore, SER applicants will be eligible to receive self-sufficiency services, including case management through the SWP MEAP.

Households who qualify for SER energy services will be eligible for SWP MEAP direct payment assistance, including enrollment in an Affordable Payment Plan (APP). Self-sufficiency services can begin prior to SER approval (but after SER application), however, direct energy payments cannot be made until SER approval has been determined and the client has completed the SWP MEAP Self-Sufficiency Plan and Energy Conservation and Money Wise Budgeting Workshop.

The SWP MEAP will collaborate with St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVdP) of the Upper Peninsula, participating Tribes of the Upper Peninsula, participating Michigan Community Action Agencies (MCAA), and other project partners to implement a step-by-step energy assistance program for low-income households across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

This collaborative, community approach will help struggling families in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan pay energy bills during the coldest months of the year, become more aware of home energy conservation, and receive the tools needed to gain the confidence and knowledge to budget for future energy costs.

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