County Council Committee learns about Electricity Programs for Low-Income Residents

The June 6 meeting of the Cuyahoga County Health, Human Service and Aging Committee featured two presentations. There were no pieces of legislation considered at this meeting.

The first presentation was from David Turner who represents First Energy. Turner presented on a series of income-based programs that are available to county residents who qualify to assist them with maintaining their electricity service. One of the many programs available is the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP Plus). PIPP is directed at customers who heat their homes with electricity, and have incomes at 150 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) or below. These customers will pay 10% of their income, or $10 a month, whichever is more.

These customers will pay 10% of their income, or $10 a month, whichever is more.

Turner explained that many of the First Energy income-based qualification programs, including the aforementioned PIPP Plus program, the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and the Ohio Home Weatherization Program, are underutilized and are often not used until the resident faces electricity shut off and by then it is too late to take advantage of the discounted rates. He said it is very important to raise awareness of these programs that help county residents, especially seniors. This is especially important for residents to know as the days get warmer and there will be additional strain on the system because of air conditioners. Cuyahoga County HHSA Committee Chairwoman Yvonne Conwell asked if there was a printed resource available that provided a breakdown of the qualifications for the various programs. Turner explained that the Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland (CEOGC) has information that provides a detailed breakdown. Conwell asked if there are any outreach positions at FirstEnergy to go out and inform people about these programs, to which Turner said that there are not. Conwell commented that it appears that it is up to the customer to reach out to find out what he or she may quality for. Due to the number of seniors that may benefit from these programs, Conwell asked Turner to connect with the Cuyahoga County Department of Senior and Adult Services (DSAS) to decide the best way to get that information into the hands of seniors across the county. Councilwoman Nan Baker asked if First Energy is able to analyze their data and calculate the percentage of people who are using First Energy programs across various communities. Turner said he would get that information to councilmembers.

More awareness needed for electricity, heat programs for low income residents Click To Tweet