DETROIT (WWJ) – Do you need help paying your winter energy bill?

Consumers Energy says customers who qualify can seek financial help even if they are on a payment plan.

“We want our customers to know they have assistance options coming out of winter. In addition to payment arrangements with Consumers Energy, the company has teamed up with four lead human service agencies that provide help,” said Amy Walt, executive director of customer operations for Consumers Energy, in a news release.

Lisa Coates with THAW — The Heat and Warmth Fund —  says they help utility customers in many areas of the state.

For those who are behind on their bill, Coates suggests seeking assistance sooner than later.

“Last year we helped more than 26,000 households,” she told WWJ Newsradio 950. “There’s never enough money for the need, so…we are asking people to not wait until the last minute before, you know, they’re at the door to shut you off.”

Coates said they’re especially concerned about the elderly since the heat can shut off now that it’s April.

“At that time the regular collection status is in effect for seniors as well; so, we’re reaching out to seniors to let them know, if you are struggling to pay your bills contact us, and we have programs to assist you with your utility bill,” she said.

Consumers provided the following list of ways to get help:

  1. Dial 2-1-1, a free, confidential, around-the-clock resource line that refers people to available help depending upon the type of need, such as energy bills, medical issues, transportation, senior and veteran care. Currently, there are a few key programs still offering help with energy bills, and 2-1-1 can help refer people to each of them.
  2. The Michigan Department of Human Services provides help with energy bills through its State Emergency Relief Program. This program is available November through May. Apply online at www.mibridges.michigan.gov.
  3. Contact a nonprofit agency providing help with energy bills. Consumers Energy recommends and supports The Salvation Army (855-929-1640), Michigan Community Action, THAW (800-866-8429), and TrueNorth Community Services (800-379-0221, ext. 149). Call the one nearest you; and, if you don’t know, dial 2-1-1.
  4. Qualified homeowners or renters who pay heating expenses are encouraged to apply for a Michigan Home Heating Credit. Refunds are issued in the form of credits applied toward energy bills. Customers do not need to file a state income tax return to receive this credit. You can find Form 1040CR-7 where tax forms are commonly available or by calling Consumers Energy to request a form at 800-477-5050.

Learn about payment options from Consumers Energy: www.ConsumersEnergy.com/assistance or call 800-477-5050.

Some Michigan residents may be eligible to a tax credit to subsidize heating costs for the prior tax year. Find form 1040CR-7 at www.michigan.gov/treasury.

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