Keeping the Heat on and staying warm

(Plain Press, November 2004) On Tuesday, November 9 th, Consumers for Fair Utility Rates will present a Utilities Information Forum at La Sagrada Familia Church from 6 to 8 PM . The church is at 7719 Detroit Ave. with ample parking behind the church.

The goal of the evening is to provide residents with the information they need to get through this upcoming winter while staying warm. In addition, the intent is to provide all with at least some beginning information on how they might save a few dollars in the process.

The forum will provide residents with information on utility assistance programs that provide utility reconnection or stop pending disconnection. It will include information about who qualifies, how to sign up and what you need to sign up. Tim Walters, community organizer at the May Dugan Center , stressed the importance of such information, stating “there is no law preventing utility companies from disconnecting utilities not matter the temperature or the age of those in the home.”

Representatives from the Cleveland Housing Network will take applications at the forum for the E-Heap program, which provides payment assistance once per heating season for income-eligible consumers affected by disconnection. Eligibility is limited to those under 150% of poverty. Applicants must be an adult member of the household and must bring proof of income for all household members 18years and older, disconnection notice, most recent utility bill and social security numbers for all household members two years and older.

Information and applications will also be provided for the regular HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program), the Homestead Exemption program that lowers property tax for seniors, and the Lifeline program that reduces phone bills. Recent changes in the PIPP program , including the new PIPP arrearage forgiveness program, will also be discussed. Cleveland Public Power’s policies about payment plans and disconnections will able be addressed.

Among other subjects to be covered are:

• The Winter Reconnect Order for those disconnected or with disconnection notices

• How to apply for medical certification programs to hold off disconnection

• How to locate authorized locations to pay your utility bill on the near west side

• The best way to chose a natural gas supplier

• How to compare prices and total costs if you change natural gas suppliers

• Weatherization programs and who is eligible

• How to winterize your own home and what products will be helpful in doing this

• Your Utility rights – What Utilities can and cannot do

• What you need to do to prevent a disconnection

• How to read your own meter

• What you can do to prevent estimated bills

• What you should expect if a disconnection does take place

• What you should or should not do if you are disconnected

including safety information on the use of electric heaters.

The forum’s goal is to share needed information in a community-friendly manner we can all understand and appreciate. This will include discussions about what we can do to take action to fight back against those polices that we feel are unfair and just plain wrong.

A raffle will be held with energy efficient-products provided as prizes. For information about November 9th, contact Tim Walters at the May Dugan Center, 631-5800.


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