Protection

Winter Protection Plan

Contact: UPPCO 906-449-2013 / 800-562-7680

The Winter Protection Plan protects enrolled seniors (age 65 and older) and low-income customers whose annual household income is at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, from service shutoffs and high utility bill payments during the heating season (November 1 – March 31).

Who is eligible?
You may qualify for protection if you meet the following requirements in addition to those listed above:
– Receive Michigan Department of Health and Human Services cash assistance including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), food assistance or Medicaid.
– Meet annual income guidelines (see below).

Income eligible customers must pay at least seven percent of their estimated annual bill each month during the protection period. If an arrearage exists at the time you apply for shutoff protection, you must pay the arrearage in equal monthly installments between the date you apply and the start of the next heating season.

If a customer is income eligible and their utility service was shutoff before applying for shutoff protection, UPPCO cannot require a fee, a security deposit nor an amount greater than one–twelfth of the arrearage in order to restore service or participate in the program.

All customers 65 or older are eligible regardless of income. However, you are responsible for all service used. At the end of the protection period, all customers must arrange to pay the outstanding bills before the next heating season. If you are a senior citizen whose utility service may have been shut off before applying, UPPCO must restore your service during the heating season without any payments. Although no specific payments are required during the heating season, seniors are encouraged to pay what they can to avoid large payments when the protection period ends.

Participation does not relieve you from the responsibility for paying for electricity and natural gas usage but does prevent a shutoff during the winter months. At the end of the protection period, both low-income and seniors participating in the plan must arrange with UPPCO to pay any money owed before the start of the next protection period.

NOTE: Winter shutoff protections do not apply to customers that are shutoff, or who had a pending shutoff for unauthorized utility service within the past two years at the customer’s current address, until all charges are paid, or the customer makes satisfactory payment arrangements.

Senior Citizens

Contact: UPPCO 906-449-2013 / 800-562-7680

The account holder who is an eligible senior citizen, age 65 and older, is protected from disconnection of service during the heating season (November 1 through March 31) at the customer’s documented personal residence. UPPCO will restore service for the customer during the heating season without payment of the amount due, deposits, reconnection fees, or other charges. At the end of the heating season, the account will be placed on a payment plan and payment must begin immediately. Contact UPPCO directly to enroll on the WPP.

Medical Emergency Protection

Contact: UPPCO 906-449-2013 / 800-562-7680

You can receive a medical hold preventing service from being shutoff for nonpayment on your natural gas and/or electric bill for up to 21 days if you or a member of your household, has an existing medical condition that would be aggravated by the lack of utility service. Your condition must be certified by a physician or public health office on a Michigan Public Service Commission approved Medical Certification Form. The form must state the medical condition, medical equipment and specific time period a shutoff of utility service would make the medical condition worse. If the shutoff of service occurred before a medical emergency is approved, the utility will restore service at no cost to you for 21 days. You can obtain an extension of the medical hold and a postponement of shutoff of service for a total of 63 days (three separate medical holds) in any 12-month period per household member. Annually, the utility is not required to grant shutoff extensions totaling more than 126 days per household. Customers would be granted a three-business day grace period from shutoff of utility service for time to have the Medical Certification Form completed. A utility shall not require payment for an after-hours reconnect fee or a deposit as a condition of restoring service. The Medical Certification Form is available on UPPCO’s website and can be requested in hard copy. It is also available at www.michigan.gov/mpsc.

Critical Care Protection

Contact: UPPCO 906-449-2013 / 800-562-7680

A customer or household can receive protection from disconnection or have services restored due to inability to pay if there is an identified critical care customer in the home and interruption of service would be immediately life threatening. A critical care customer is somebody who requires home medical equipment or a life support system that must be certified by a physician or public health office on a Michigan Public Service Commission approved Medical Certification Form. Customers would be granted a three-business day grace period from shutoff of utility service for time to have the Medical Certification Form completed. You will be contacted by the utility when any scheduled service interruptions occur. UPPCO will also notify you before any remote shutoff of utility services. If critical care status changes, you, or a person in your household, must let UPPCO know of the status change. However, if a person’s status does not change you must submit an updated Medical Certification Form to the utility on an annual basis. The Medical Certification Form is available from your utility and on its website. It is also available at www.michigan.gov/mpsc.

Active Duty in the Military

Contact: UPPCO 906-449-2013 / 800-562-7680

If you or your spouse is the UPPCO customer on record and either of you are called to full-time active military service, by the President of the United States or the Governor of Michigan, during a national or state emergency or war, you may apply for shutoff protection of your electric or natural gas service for up to 90 days. You may also reapply for extensions of this protection. UPPCO may request verification of active duty status. In addition, you must notify UPPCO when your status changes. Contact UPPCO to set up a payment plan for all past due amounts to be paid within twelve months. You will still be required to pay for services used while in the program.

Assistance

State Emergency Relief Program

Contact: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at www.michigan.gov/mdhhs

State Emergency Relief (SER) is a crisis intervention program that provides assistance for energy-related expenses such as heating fuel, electricity and home repairs. SER is supported by the Federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Eligibility is based on one of the following:
– Demonstration of immediate need (past due/shutoff notice)
– Declared need for a deliverable fuel such as propane
– Verified need for energy-related home repair
– Income
– Assets

*NEW THIS YEAR – Apply online using MI Bridges: https://michigan.gov/mibridges.

Need help applying? https://newmibridges.michigan.gov/s/isd-find-community-partners

Home Heating Credit

Contact: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at www.michigan.gov/mdhhs

Administering Agency: Michigan Dept. of Treasury
Apply for a Home Heating Credit (HHC) for the 2018 tax year to help pay winter heating bills if you meet the listed household income guidelines and exemptions. You may claim an exemption for yourself, your spouse, and other dependents. Additional exemptions may also be available. HHC is supported by the Federal Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Forms are generally available in mid to late January where tax forms can be found. Call Treasury at (517) 636-4486 or visit its website at www.michigan.gov/treasury. Some local agencies or utility companies may provide assistance with completing the form, which is due no later than September 30 each year. To find an agency that assists with tax preparation, contact 2-1-1.

Customers of utilities regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission receive protection from shutoff of their heating fuel service from the time of filing of HHC form with Treasury until the time Treasury issues the credit. However, you must contact UPPCO to let us know you filed for the HHC. Keep a copy of the HHC form you file with the number of exemptions claimed and the amount of the credit to use when requesting the status of your application. You will still be required to pay for the electric and natural gas services used during the shutoff protection period.

Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP)

Contact: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at www.michigan.gov/mdhhs

Administering Agency: Michigan Public Service Commission
Once a State Emergency Relief application has been submitted, additional assistance can be sought through agencies that provide MEAP energy assistance programs that include services that will enable participants to become or move toward becoming self-sufficient, including assisting participants in paying their energy bills on time, budgeting for and contributing to their ability to provide for energy expenses, and assisting participants in being energy efficient.

Need help applying for State Emergency Relief? Find a MI Bridges Navigator near you: https://newmibridges.michigan.gov/s/isd-find-community-partners , or contact 2-1-1.

The MEAP is supported by the state’s Low Income Energy Assistance Fund (LIEAF). An electric utility that chooses not to collect for the LIEAF shall not shut off service to customers for non-payment between November 1 and April 15. For a list of electric providers that opt-out of collecting the LIEAF go to www.michigan.gov/mpsc.

Michigan Veterans Trust Fund Emergency Grant Program

Contact: Michigan Veterans Trust Fund at (517) 284-5299 or https://www.michiganveterans.com

The Trust Fund provides temporary assistance to veterans and their families facing a financial emergency or hardship including the need for energy assistance.

United Way 2-1-1

2-1-1 is a one-stop, around-the-clock free phone and online service that links people with information or agencies that can help with utility assistance and other needs such as rent payment help, child and elder care, emergency shelters, job training, counseling, etc. Simply dial 2-1-1 on your phone or visit https://mi211.org and click Search Resource Database to get connected to available services.

Programs

Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program

Administering Agency: Bureau of Community Action and Economic Opportunity

Michigan’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is a federally funded, low-income residential energy conservation program providing free home energy conservation services to eligible homeowners and renters with a household income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. You are also eligible if you participate in the Department of Health and Human Services Family Independence Program or receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These weatherization services can help reduce energy use and lower utility bills.
If you qualify, a trained inspector will assess your home and determine which measures will be the most beneficial for you: adding caulking and weather stripping; wall, basement, and attic insulation and ventilation; and smoke detectors. Contact your local Community Action Agency or go to mcac.memberclicks.net/agency-locator-map for more information. For additional information on saving energy and money, visit www.energy.gov/energysaver.

Lifeline

Contact: Your Local Wire Line Telephone Company

The Lifeline program makes basic local telephone service more affordable for income-eligible individuals and families in Michigan with an annual household income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. You may also qualify if you receive:
– Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
– Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
– Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
– The National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch
– Medicaid
– Food Assistance
– Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Eligible customers under age 65 can receive a discount of $9.25 off the basic local service rate offered by the local telephone service provider. Eligible customers 65 years of age and older can receive a discount of $12.35 off the basic local service rate offered by their local telephone provider.

All local wireline telephone service providers in Michigan are required to provide Lifeline. Some wireless companies also offer a Lifeline discount. Contact your local telephone company or check the front pages of your phone book for more information.