More in Ohio eligible for help with utility bills

More Ohioans are now eligible for help to pay electric and natural gas bills as inflation continues to push prices of goods and services upward.

Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order that increased the income threshold for those receiving assistance from the Percentage of Income Payment Plan from 150% of the federal poverty level to 175%.

“With the rising costs of commodities, Ohioans are finding it harder to pay their utility bills,” DeWine said. “By expanding eligibility for utility assistance programs, more Ohioans will get the help they need to pay their bills and keep their homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter.”

The state has no estimates of how many customers would now be eligible for assistance based on the new criteria, said Matt Schilling, public affairs director for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

The program is funded through utility bills and the amount differs for each electric and natural gas utility. It also changes occasionally based on program participation.

The program works year-round with utility payments based on a percentage of the monthly household income. The payments stay consistent throughout the year. Customers who make payments on time and in full can have the balance of their bills eliminated.

Under the new rules, a single person making $23,782.50 annually can be eligible for the program. For a household of two, the income level increases to $32,042.50. The level rises $8,260 for each household member.

There are about 4.5 million regulated electricity customers and 3 million regulated natural gas customers in the state.

The Ohio Department of Development handles the program for electric service, while the PUCO handles natural gas.

The state also offers the Home Energy Assistance Program, Household Water Assistance Programs, Home Relief Grants, Home Weatherization Assistance Program and Save the Dream Ohio.

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