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Connecticut Sources of Emergency Funding for Utilities

Connecticut Sources of Emergency Funding for Utilities

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Published by bstonesifer
Provides information on sources of utilities assistance to lower-income homes in Connecticut. Covers the right to utilities, state-funded programs, private programs, winter and summer assistance and contact information.
Provides information on sources of utilities assistance to lower-income homes in Connecticut. Covers the right to utilities, state-funded programs, private programs, winter and summer assistance and contact information.

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Published by: bstonesifer on Oct 16, 2009
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10/16/2009

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Sources of EmergencySources of Emerge
 
ncy Utilities Assistance forUtilities Assistance for Connecticut ResidentsConnecticut Residents
As of Fall 2009
Introduction
We all know that that trying to make it through thewinter cold without adequate home heating andutilities can be life threatening. Fortunately there area number of sources of funding, including state-runservices, to help pay for heating bills when low-income, elderly or disable households cannot affordthem. We also know that the summer’s heat can be just as dangerous as the winter’s cold, especially for those with health problems, the elderly and the veryyoung. Though there are fewer sources of funding for summer utilities, some states, cities and localorganizations have activated plans for emergencyfunding for these needs. Below is information aboutyour right to utility and fuel services and about programs which can provide emergency funds duringthe winter, summer or both.
Your Right to Utility and Deliverable Fuel Services
Utility companies and municipalities are limited in their ability to shut-off or deny utility services. Residentialcustomers of gas and electric companies receive the highest level of consumer protection. For instance, lowincome and seriously ill consumers are protected from termination of gas and electric service during the winter moratorium, November 1 to May 1. Customers with life threatening conditions
are protected from shut-offs year round 
. Service may not be shut off on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, legal holiday, the day before a legalholiday or a day when the company’s business office is either not open or is within one hour of closing or acomplaint about the consumer’s bill is being investigated.Deliverable fuels, such as oil, propane, coal and wood, have fewer limitations on shut-offs or refusals to deliver services. There are usually competing deliverable fuel companies, however, that may provide services.Also, if your heating is included in the cost of your rent, landlords are required to maintain a minimumtemperature of 65 degrees (year round).
Security Deposits to Obtain Service
Connecticut Light & Power, United Illuminating, Yankee Gas, Southern Connecticut Gas, and Connecticut Natural Gas cannot deny service to hardship customers who are unable to pay a security deposit. Municipalutilities are allowed to charge security deposits, but the Connecticut Department of Social Services may help pay these deposits for persons receiving State Supplement or TFA.
 Life Threatening Service Terminations
Gas and electric utility services may not be terminated, and must be reinstated if terminated, whenever a lack of such service would create a life-threatening situation, when the customer lacks the resources to pay the entireaccount and he/she has a registered physician’s note.1
 
 Service Terminations Between November 1 and May 1 Electric Utilities:
Protection from a winter shutoff is available to low-income electric utility customers byapplying each fall to their electric company for "hardship" status. "Hardship" customers cannot be shut off  between November 1 and May 1, even if they owe the company money. If electric service is shut off, the utilitymust turn it back on by November 1, even if the customer is unable to make a payment.
Gas Utilities:
Protection from a winter shutoff is available only to low-income gas heat customers by applyingeach fall to their gas company for "hardship" status. "Hardship" heating customers cannot be shut off between November 1 and May 1, even if they owe the company money. If gas heating service is shut off, whether theutility must turn it back on by November 1 depends on the customer's situation:
 If you did not ask to have gas service kept on the prior winter as a "hardship" case,
then the gascompany must turn the gas back on by November 1, even if you are unable to make a payment.
 If gas service was not shut off the prior winter because you were a "hardship" case,
then the gascompany does not have to turn your gas back on by November 1 unless you have paid the lowest of thefollowing amounts since the prior November 1: $100 or 20% of the amount you owe when the gas wasshut off (not the amount of the final billing after the shutoff); or the minimum payments under your  payment agreement with the utility company.“Hardship” cases include customers who:
Receive certain local, state or federal assistance.
Receive income only from Social Security, Veteran’s or Unemployment Compensation benefits.
Have income that is less than 125% of the federal poverty level.
Are unemployed with household incomes less than 300% of the federal poverty level.
Have a household member who is seriously ill and whose health would be at significant risk if utilitieswere to be shut off 
Low-Income Rate Assistance
All
electricity
and
 gas
public service companies are required by statute to operate a past payment forgiveness program for gas heating customers. An arrearage forgiveness program means that some of your back debt (bills)will be forgiven in exchange for making regular payments on your bill. Households are put on a budget plan. Aslong as you make the payments agreed to in the budget plan, your back bills will be erased or forgiven. Your utility bill can be reduced to $0 in the arrearage forgiveness program, but it cannot result in a credit on your account. There are two parts in the arrearage forgiveness program:
the winter program (November 1 to April 30), and
the summer program (May 1 to October 31).
Eligibility Requirements
 
Balances of $100 or more that are 60+ days overdue
Must have income at or less than 200% Federal Poverty Guidelines
Must have had at least $25 paid toward bill by LIHEAP (or other assistance program).
Service Areas:
Connecticut State2
 
Specific Utilities Company Programs:1.Connecticut Light and Power
 NUSTARTCustomers can reduce or eliminate their past-due balance if they pay an agreed-upon budgeted amounton time, each month. Eligibility: past balances of $100 or more that are 60+ days overdue, income of less than 200% FPG, and have had at least $25 paid toward bill by LIHEAP (or other assistance program).Call: 1-800-286-5844
Matching Payment PlanCustomers who maintain eligibility under the Matching Payment Program will see an additionalreduction in their past-due amount for every dollar paid to CL&P. For more information, call 1-800-286-2828 or 860-947-2828 in the Hartford and Meriden calling areas.
Winter Protection ProgramProtects hardship customers from electric service shut-offs or natural gas shut-offs for nonpayment from Nov. 1 to May 1 and protects from late charges. To qualify, a customer's total household income must be below 200% FPG, or below 300% if unemployed for the last 12 months. Additional criteria that mayalso qualify a customer for Winter Protection can include aid to the blind, elderly and disabled,temporary family assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, general assistance, Supplemental Security Income(SSI), or a serious or life-threatening illness in the household. Customers still receive their bills andshould try to pay what they can each month to avoid a larger balance due when the protection periodends.Call: 1- 800-286-2828
General Contact Info for Connecticut Light and Power:
Address: Northeast Utilities Customer Care Center 107 Selden StreetBerlin, CTPhone: (860) 947-2000Toll Free: (800) 286-2000Teletype for the deaf: (800) 842-9710Para asistencia en español: (860) 665-3536Website: www.cl-p.com/home.aspx
2.Connecticut Natural Gas
Matching Payment PlanFor families that qualify, CNG will match every dollar paid by you or on your behalf (up to a zero balance) if you successfully complete the plan. So, you pay a portion, energy assistance pays a portionand we pay a portion. Bottom line: you may have to pay for only about one-third of your gas heatingexpense if you qualify. Eligibility is based on income and assets. Customers must receive energyassistance in order to be eligible.
General Contact Info for Connecticut Natural Gas:
Phone: (860) 727-3034 or call InfoLine at 2-1-1 to learn more.Website: www.cngcorp.com3

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