Utility Help Procedures Changing

posted 2/7/21 -- Lorain County Community Action Agency manages a range of energy services programs designed to help low-income residents stay warm, stay healthy and stay connected.

During 2021, LCCAA will be updating procedures to make services more accessible and more efficient.

“Restrictions on services brought on by the pandemic and the tremendous need for assistance have fast-tracked planned changes to service delivery,” said Planning and Community Services Director Bobby Taylor. “We have been in transition over the last few years working together with the State of Ohio regarding online and mail-in services to make in-person appointments for energy services largely unnecessary.”

Taylor noted that only certain requests require an appointment, and LCCAA has been working to phase in use of online and mailing services to make services more accessible. Bringing documents to our offices or taking time off from work for appointments has long been a customer burden. However, most energy services are now accessible by completing an Energy Assistance Application with the State of Ohio online or by mail. Applications are found at energyhelp.gov and can be completed there or printed for mailing.

The only households who will continue to need appointments are those who have their utility shut off, have a disconnection notice, or – in most summer crisis cases – those with a medical condition.

LCCAA is currently conducting appointments by phone due to COVID-19.

For now, LCCAA will continue to accept appointment requests for all types of assistance. In the months ahead, however, non-crisis services will be redirected to energyhelp.ohio.gov to apply online or by mail. Customers will be guided differently when calling or going online for assistance with those in crisis able to make appointments.

LCCAA is prepared for these changes. At present, all Home Energy Assistance applications are processed by LCCAA on a first come-first served basis. For Percentage of Income Payment Plan participants, additional consideration is given to anniversary and reverification dates to keep applicants enrolled in the program.

“We know that customers get frustrated when our appointments are all booked,” Taylor said. “We have many customers who apply online or by mail and book an appointment and drop off an application just to cover all their bases. Our new procedures address these issues.”

Service availability and eligibility are as follows:

Home Energy Assistance Program – for people who have heat, but need assistance paying their bill. This assistance is offered once per heating season between October and April to households at or below 175% of the federal poverty line.

Percentage of Income Payment Plan – for people who want affordable, income-adjusted budget payments to stay out of crisis. Must live at or below 150% of the federal poverty line.

Winter Crisis – for people who are without heat or who have received a disconnect notice. This program operates from Nov. 1 to March 31 annually. Households must be at or below 175% of the federal poverty line.

Summer Crisis – typically for people who have a medical necessity for an air conditioner or help paying electric bills during the summer months. Criteria sometimes vary for this program offered in July and August to those living at or below 175% of the federal poverty line.

Presently, appointments may be made with LCCAA by visiting app.capappointments.com. Those with a pending disconnection notice must provide an account number to place a hold on the disconnection. Missing or rescheduling the appointment may result in disconnection.

For additional details on all programs, including required documents, please click here.