Several states add to annual seasonal energy bill assistance for customers with COVID-19 financial losses
DES MOINES, Iowa – (Oct. 28, 2020) – Customers struggling to pay their energy bills may qualify for additional assistance this year if they also experienced COVID-19-related income losses, as several states have added pandemic relief funds on top of their annual low-income home energy assistance programs, or LIHEAP.
“More customers are facing financial hardship than in years past, due to this year’s challenges,” Mike Gehringer, vice president of customer operations for MidAmerican, said. “We encourage those customers to apply for LIHEAP, additional COVID-19 assistance to those who qualify, and contact us to discuss available payment options.” Customers concerned about their energy bill should call MidAmerican at 888-427-5632.
LIHEAP helps low-income families pay their heating bills. The program provides winter heating assistance to qualifying customers. Each state receives and administers funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services block grants, so programs vary by state.
- Illinois LIHEAP
To be eligible for LIHEAP in Illinois, the total household income for an applicant must be at or below 200% of 2020 federal poverty guidelines. For example, a single-person household is eligible with an annual gross income at or below $25,520, and a family of four is eligible with an annual gross income at or below $52,400.
Customers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible for LIHEAP to ensure they receive the assistance they need. The program will accept applications through May 31, 2021. To apply, Illinois residents in Rock Island, Mercer and Henry counties should contact Project NOW, Inc. at www.projectnow.org or 309-793-6391. Residents can also call the state’s LIHEAP hotline at 877-411-WARM (9276).
- Iowa LIHEAP
Community action agencies in Iowa review applications and administer grant funds. Household income and size, type of primary heating fuel, housing type and other factors are considered.
To be eligible for LIHEAP in Iowa, the total household income for an applicant must be at or below 175% of 2020 federal poverty guidelines. For example, a single-person household is eligible with an annual gross income at or below $22,330. A family of four is eligible with an annual gross income at or below $45,850.
Eligible customers who need help with energy bills should apply for LIHEAP at a local community action agency. The Iowa Department of Human Rights has additional information about the program and eligibility requirements.
- Nebraska LIHEAP
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services administers the state’s LIHEAP assistance.
To be eligible for LIHEAP in Nebraska, the total household income for an applicant must be at or below 130% of 2020 federal poverty guidelines. For example, a single-person household can qualify with an annual gross income at or below $16,588, and a family of four can qualify with an annual gross income at or below $34,060.
Nebraska customers can apply for assistance through March 31, 2021 for the 2020-2021 heating season. LIHEAP application forms are available through the ACCESSNebraska website, by phone at 800-383-4278, or at a local Nebraska DHHS office.
- South Dakota LIEAP
South Dakota’s Department of Social Services distributes Low-Income Energy Assistance Program funds on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligibility for South Dakota’s LIEAP is based on the number of people residing in the home, type and cost of heating, and the household income. For example, a single-person household can qualify with a maximum 3-month income of $6,380 or less and a four-person household can qualify with a maximum 3-month income of $12,969 or less.
South Dakota LIEAP application forms are available at the South Dakota Department of Social Services website, by phone at 800-233-8503 or at local DSS offices.
Additional pandemic-related utility bill relief
Several states currently offer limited-time pandemic-related utility bill and utility debt assistance if they experienced a COVID-19-related loss:
- Illinois: MidAmerican Energy customers in Rock Island, Mercer and Henry counties who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 may qualify for additional utility bill assistance, based on their income. To apply, contact Project NOW, Inc. at projectnow.org or 309-793-6391. Limited funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Iowa: The Iowa Residential Utility Disruption Prevention Program provides eligible households with up to $2,000 toward certain utility services, including electric and natural gas, if they are at risk of disconnection due to an inability to pay due to a COVID-19-related income loss. More information about the program is available at iowafinance.com or by calling 515-348-8976. The application deadline is November 20, 2020.
- South Dakota: The South Dakota CARES Housing Assistance Program provides qualifying South Dakota residents up to $1,500 per month in temporary housing expenses, including utility bills, if they have experienced a particular COVID-19-related loss. More information is available at sdhda.org or by calling 211. The application deadline is December 18, 2020.
Budget billing provides predictable monthly bill
MidAmerican Energy customers who want a more consistent monthly energy bill can opt for budget billing, which allows customers to pay the same amount each month for a set period of time. Budget billing does not lower rates but does offer a more predictable bill.
How you can help low-income customers this winter
To help those in need, customers can donate to MidAmerican Energy’s I CARE program. I CARE funds local assistance for heating bills and home weatherization for low-income residents and is administered through local community action agencies.
Customer donations fund I CARE, together with a 25% match from MidAmerican Energy. Tax-deductible donations to the I CARE program stay within the local community and go directly to help those in need. MidAmerican Energy customers can donate to the I CARE program via a checkbox on their monthly bill or can pledge online.
About MidAmerican Energy Company
MidAmerican Energy Company, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, serves more than 791,000 electric customers in Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota, and 771,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. Information about MidAmerican is available at MidAmericanEnergy.com and company social media channels.