The Clark County Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) office in Springfield has been busier than usual this winter serving those seeking help paying their heating bills.
Coordinator Judy Wilson says 3,537 people have applied so far for the Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program (E-HEAP), also known as Winter or Summer Crisis — a 9 percent increase over last winter.
That program runs through April 15 this year and assists low-income families with a one-time payment that guarantees their heating service for 30 days. To be eligible, people must meet eligibility requirements and have a disconnection notice or have already been disconnected. Bulk fuel customers (coal, wood, fuel oil, kerosene and propane) must have less than a 10-day supply. E-HEAP appointments must be made by calling 937-325-8366 or by the walk-in process, Monday-Friday at 3 p.m.
If people are not on the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus Enrollment and Re-Verification program, which operates year-round, they will be placed on E-HEAP. Wilson says PIPP Plus will spread out payments to make them more manageable.
Regulated gas and electric companies accept payments based on a percentage of household income. Those who heat with gas pay 6 percent of their monthly household income to the gas company and 6 percent to the electric company. Electric-only customers pay 10 percent of their monthly income. Once a person is enrolled in that program, they must make a full payment each month and on time and must also re-verify their incomes annually.
To be eligible, a person must receive their primary or secondary heat source from a company regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, meet income requirements and apply for all energy assistance for which they are eligible. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 325-8366 or visiting the E-HEAP Office.
Wilson pointed out the PIPP Plus program helps reduce the need for the Winter/Summer Crisis Program and disconnection of service.
The remaining program is called Regular Home Energy Assistance (R-HEAP) and also runs through April 15. It assists low-income families with a one-time payment to their primary heating vendor. No disconnect notice is required, but applicants must meet income requirements.
R-HEAP applications will be automatically completed when the person is enrolled in PIPP or receives E-HEAP assistance.
Walk-ins for all programs are accepted Monday through Friday at 3 p.m., excluding holidays, at the E-HEAP Office, 600 W. Main St. in Springfield. Ten appointments are distributed daily, with people shut off the longest, due to be disconnected the earliest, and the elderly given the highest priority.
Wilson says their new location on West Main Street, which was formerly the Greyhound Bus Station, “has been good for the staff and great for the customers.” She points out there is plenty of room and more parking there, and the renovation has made an abandoned site more viable for the community.
“It’s a great place to come in and work,” she added. “It’s bigger than what it looks from the outside.”