Thursday, January 25, 2001

Grants will help with heating bills

By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Ohioans ineligible for other home-heating assistance will be able to apply for grants of up to $250 to help pay their skyrocketing winter fuel bills, starting Monday.

        The program called “Project THAW” was one of several steps outlined by Gov. Bob Taft Wednesday in his State of the State address to help residents deal with heating bills. The bills have doubled and tripled this year because of higher natural gas prices and colder than normal temperatures.

        The governor also asked the state's gas utilities to create a fund of at least $5 million to help low-income customers pay their bills and instructed the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to expand a 60-day moratorium on utility disconnections for customers who can't pay their bills.

        A spokesman for Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. said the unit of Cinergy Corp. has agreed to contribute $500,000 to the fund.

        Earlier this winter the PUCO barred disconnections for low-income customers who receive emergency assistance under the federally funded Home Energy Assistance Progam (HEAP).

        Alan Schriber, PUCO chairman, said the new order to be issued today will expand the moratorium to customers who sign up for utili ty extended payment plans.

        The HEAP program provides assistance to those whose income is within 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline. Project THAW is aimed at those whose incomes are double the poverty guideline.

        That's $34,100 for a family of four, $22,500 for a couple and $16,700 for a single person.

        Applicants should call the HEAP assistance line, (800) 282-0880 starting Monday.

State of the State
Excerpts of the State of the State address delivered Wednesday by Gov. Bob Taft.
- Grants will help with heating bills
Plan skips funding fix for schools, some say
Taft's honeymoon could be over
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