Past Due on Electric Bills? LIHEAP Might Help
Posted on August 24th, 2020
This time of year in Arkansas, we’re still concerned with trying to keep cool.
But the COVID-19 pandemic might have turned up the heat on lower-income members trying to keep up with their electricity bills.
On July 20, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Arkansas has been allocated $8.2 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding “that will allow us to provide additional assistance for those who are struggling with their electricity bills.”
First Electric Cooperative does not administer these funds, but we want to direct you to those who do.
The Supplemental Crisis Program, offered as of July 27, is what Arkansas Energy Office Associate Director Mitchell Simpson calls “an exciting relaunch” of LIHEAP, which stands for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, adding it “will assist low-income Arkansans who have accumulated larger than normal past-due balances.”
Simpson emphasized three points about the Supplemental Crisis program:
- “It differs from the traditional program, which is utility-focused, by not only focusing on utility,” but also including those who have “depleted their supply of winter fuel, such as propane, natural gas or even wood.”
- “The maximum benefit has increased from $500 per household to $1,500 per household for the crisis program.”
- “Typically the crisis program requires an applicant to provide a shut-off notice. During this time, especially when folks are affected by COVID-19, applicants can submit a past-due notice to qualify for the crisis program.”
According to Simpson, $6.97 million will go to the Supplemental Crisis Program, and $1.23 million will go to a Summer Cooling Program, which Simpson clarified “is for low-income qualifying folks. In addition to being income-eligible, they must also meet one of four other qualifying conditions.” A household must have either: an elderly family member; a disabled family member; a child age 5 or younger; or a family member with a verified medical condition requiring air conditioning.
Hutchinson said these programs will extend through “Sept. 30 of 2021 or until that $8.2 million is expended.”
ACT NOW! Funds are running out.
Please be aware that when the governor’s emergency order is lifted, we will resume disconnecting service for non-payment. You will still be responsible for any balance due. Let us help you with payment arrangements to stay on top of your balance so you don’t fall too far behind.
Call us today at 800-489-7405.
How to Get Help
- Find out if you qualify. See the table below or the Arkansas Benefits page to see the maximum household income per year based on family size. For example, a household of four would need to make no more than $39,300 per year/$3,275 per month before taxes to qualify for LIHEAP.
- Contact your Community Action Agency. LIHEAP is operated by a network of 15 Community Action Agencies (CAA), which serves all 75 counties. You can also visit Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association, Inc. for more information.