Many folks do not realize that there are programs that offer energy assistance in Illinois. These programs that help pay gas bills are available to people who are struggling through hard times. But you don’t want to wait until you are down on your luck and get a gas company to put a disconnection lock on your meter because of non-payment. Find the energy assistance — which is available on a local, state, and federal level — before you are in a bad situation. In this article, we’ll look at the programs that help pay gas bills.
Federal help for people with low income
The Low Income Housing and Energy Assistance Program also known as LIHEAP is a federal government program that helps households who need help with gas bills, along with their light bill.
The eligibility level for LIHEAP is 150 percent of the federal poverty level, which is a pretty moderate low-income restriction.
As an example, Illinois LIHEAP fiscal year funding for 2012 was $185,683,819 and benefit an estimated 371,332 needy families. The average heating assistance benefit in 2011 was $450, with the minimum being $100 and maximum being $1,905.
If you wanted to apply for this energy assistance in Illinois, contact LIHEAP at 877-411-9276.
State and local agencies help pay gas bills
The natural gas companies in Illinois have options that help with gas bills. Ameren, Nicor Gas, North Shore Gas, and People’s Gas have emergency aid money programs that are common but go by different names.
Percentage of Income Payment Plan: PIPP is a energy assistance program that is for low income, seniors, and others who live on a fixed monthly income. Under this plan, you would pay a percent of your income, receive help paying utility bills, and for every on-time payment. Sign up at a local LIHEAP office. This is a nationwide program that helps pay gas bills.
Other gas emergency aid funding is limited and on the state level. These programs, which we’ll look at now, will usually require a matching contribution, which means they are not free money, per say. This funding also is available to those who typically don’t qualify for LIHEAP.
Ameren Warm Neighbors Cool Friends Program: This is not a handout, but it does provide assistance with utilities. You are required to make a payment, and the program will match it. The grant is up to $700 per year. To find out eligibility requirements, contact Ameren at 800.755.5000.
Nicor Gas Sharing Program: This program offers needy people help paying for gas bills. The grant provided depends on age. This is a program managed by the Salvation Army, so applying there would be the first step. Contact Nicor Gas at 888-642-6748 to find the closest local Salvation Army to you.
North Shore Gas Share the Warmth Program: It provides help with utility bills to limited and fixed income families who make a payment toward their gas bill. The grant amount is up to $200. Contact North Shore at 866-556-6004 for eligibility requirements.
People’s Gas Share the Warmth Program: This funding, which is for limited and fixed income families, grants up to $200 if a payment is made. Contact People’s Gas at 866-556-6001 for eligibility requirements.
Churches that help with bills
If you are in a really scrapping for money to get help paying utility bills, it’s possible you may be able to ask a local church to help pay gas bills.
Not all churches help with bills but some do. The best place to start is your local place of worship. The congregation may know be willing to help you pay your gas bill. They don’t won’t want to see somebody close to them struggle.
The hard part will be asking for assistance.
Financial assistance for needy people
As you can see, there’s a lot of help out there. The only issue is that many of the programs that help with gas bills in Illinois require time to get. This means it’s important to find help getting energy assistance in Illinois before you are disconnected because then it’s too late.