Program one of several assistance opportunities that can help alleviate growing electric bill balances for customers
“We recognize that many of our Met-Ed customers continue to have trouble making ends meet as Covid-19 takes a bite out of their income. The brand new Emergency Rental Assistance Program helps renters overcome pandemic-related financial hardships with rent and utility costs, including electric bills. The special program takes its place alongside an established suite of other utility assistance programs that can help eligible Met-Ed customers pay overdue bills,” explained MetEd spokesperson Todd Meyers.
“People will need to act quickly, however, because some of the programs will only have money available until funds are exhausted.
“We can even help those Met-Ed customers who earn too much money to be eligible for customer assistance programs. All they need to do is pick up the phone and talk with our customer service representatives to work out a payment plan so they can chip away at past-due balances. Initiating that call is imperative. We can’t know if a customer is having financial difficulties and needs assistance unless they tell us.”
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which assists income-eligible renters who are having trouble making ends meet, is now available to customers of FirstEnergy Corp.’s (NYSE: FE) Pennsylvania utilities.
Signed into law February 5, 2021, ERAP is designed to assist Pennsylvania renters and families at risk of homelessness due to financial hardships caused by the pandemic. Funds from the program can be used for rental or utility costs or arrearages and other related housing expenses. The Department of Human Services expects the ERAP program to run through December 31, 2021, or until funds are exhausted.
Tenants can apply, or landlords can apply on their behalf, online at www.compass.state.pa.us. If your county is not using COMPASS, you will be referred to your local ERAP agency.
“We understand many customers are in a difficult financial situation because of the pandemic,” said Michelle Henry, vice president of customer service at FirstEnergy. “Customers who have lost income during this crisis may be eligible for assistance that was unavailable to them before, but some of those programs might not be available later, when overdue balances must be addressed.”
Additional assistance programs for qualifying Metropolitan Edison (Met-Ed), Pennsylvania Electric Company (Penelec), West Penn Power and Pennsylvania Power (Penn Power) customers are available. These programs can help customers maintain their electric service and help keep overdue balances manageable. Programs include:
• LIHEAP is a federally funded grant program administered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through its network of local county assistance offices. Eligible customers may receive crisis grants of up to $800 to help with past-due electric bills and/or receive heating assistance to help reduce winter heating bills. Applications will be accepted until April 9 or until funds are exhausted. To apply, call LIHEAP at 877-395-8930 or visit www.compass.state.pa.us.
• The Pennsylvania Customer Assistance Program (PCAP) helps residential customers maintain electric service and/or eliminate their past-due balance. PCAP participants are automatically enrolled in the Equal Payment Plan (EPP) – a budget plan that allows customers to make consistent monthly payments. Customers receive monthly credits to reduce the EPP amount and/or forgiveness credits which help eliminate the past due balance at initial enrollment. While payment is not required to re-enroll if you are a previous PCAP recipient, Dollar Energy Fund, the program administrator, can estimate the amount that would be due at re-enrollment. For enrollment information, call 888-282-6816, or to apply online, visit dollarenergy.org/myapp.
• Dollar Energy Fund is an emergency hardship fund designed to help residential customers restore or maintain electric service. Eligible customers may receive up to $500 while funds are available. Program funding is provided by FirstEnergy customers, company employees, FirstEnergy shareholders and other sources. The distribution of funds is administered by the Dollar Energy Fund. For information, call 888-282-6816 or visit www.dollarenergy.org.
• 211 is a nationwide resource and information helpline that will identify programs, such as the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, in your area that may assist you or someone you know with utility bills or other needs. For more information call 211, visit www.211.org or text your ZIP code to 898211.
Income eligible customers also can reduce their electric bills by making their homes more energy efficient by participating in the WARM Program. This program is available to homeowners and renters with landlord approval. WARM Program participants:
• Receive an in-home energy evaluation
• Work with a trained energy educator to create an energy-savings plan
• Have the opportunity to receive energy-saving light bulbs; caulking and weather-stripping installed in their home; electric water heater inspections; and refrigerator/freezer testing and possible replacement.
The specific improvements that a customer is eligible to receive will be determined during the home energy evaluation. While no payment is required for these installations or services, there are household income requirements and electricity use requirements. For more information, customers can call Dollar Energy Fund at 888-282-6816, or apply online at www.energysavepa.com.
Pennsylvania residential customers also can manage their electric bills through the Equal Payment Plan (EPP). With EPP, customers can make consistent monthly payments to avoid seasonal highs and lows in their electric bills.
To apply or learn more about other company programs, visit www.firstenergycorp.com/billassist or call 800-545-7741.
For more information and frequently asked questions about FirstEnergy’s response to the coronavirus emergency, visit https://firstenergycorp.com/help/safety/coronavirus.html.
Met-Ed serves about 560,000 customers within 3,300 square miles of eastern and southeastern Pennsylvania. Follow Met-Ed on Twitter @Met Ed and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MetEdElectric.
Penelec serves nearly 600,000 customers within 17,600 square miles of northern and central Pennsylvania. Follow Penelec on Twitter @Penelec and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PenelecElectric.
Penn Power serves approximately 163,000 customers within 1,100 square miles of western Pennsylvania. Follow Penn Power on Twitter @Penn Power, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PennPower.
West Penn Power serves approximately 720,000 customers within 10,400 square miles of central and southwestern Pennsylvania. Follow West Penn Power on Twitter @W_Penn_Power and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WestPennPower.
FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company’s transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,500 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Visit FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com and follow FirstEnergy on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.