November 21, 2011 -- The Ohio Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) advises customers facing a loss of their electric or natural gas service for non-payment that the Winter Reconnect Order is now in effect.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) issued its annual order in September, which can be used on a one-time basis to avoid disconnection. This year, a new provision was included, affecting customers participating in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP Plus). Highlights of the PUCO's order are:
- Customers requesting new natural gas or electric service who have no outstanding balance with the utility may establish new service by paying the $175, rather than paying the required security deposit. If the security deposit exceeds $175, the remaining balance will be added to their next month's bill.
- For households with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, funds provided through LIHEAP, the LIHEAP Winter Crisis Program or other energy assistance programs may be used to pay the $175 charge.
- Households with incomes above 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines must enter a payment plan for any remaining balance above $175.
- The new provision for PIPP customers states that those dropped from PIPP Plus for non-payment must pay up to $50 (per utility) for any PIPP Plus default amount over $175. This applies to customers either facing disconnection, or who have already been disconnected, who may wish to re-enroll in the PIPP Plus program.
The Winter Reconnect Order is in effect until April 13, 2012. Income-eligible customers have options, such as PIPP Plus and LIHEAP, in addition to the PUCO Order. The OCC offers several free publications explaining these programs on its website.
Source: PUCO and OCC