Bill funds available for low-income Siouxland energy customers

Iowa News

Several states added pandemic relief funds to the annual low-income home energy assistance programs.

DES MOINES, Iowa (KCAU) – Siouxlanders struggling to pay their energy bills may qualify for additional assistance this year if they’ve been impacted by COVID-19 income losses. Several states added pandemic relief funds to the annual low-income home energy assistance programs.

“More customers are facing financial hardship than in years past, due to this year’s challenges,” Mike Gehringer, vice president of customer operations for MidAmerican, said. “We encourage those customers to apply for LIHEAP, additional COVID-19 assistance to those who qualify, and contact us to discuss available payment options.” Customers concerned about their energy bill should call MidAmerican at 888-427-5632.

LIHEAP
LIHEAP helps low-income families pay their heating bills. The program provides winter heating assistance to qualifying customers. Each state receives and administers funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services block grants, so programs vary by state.

  • Iowa LIHEAP
    Community action agencies in Iowa review applications and administer grant funds. Household income and size, type of primary heating fuel, housing type, and other factors are considered.

To be eligible for LIHEAP in Iowa, the total household income for an applicant must be at or below 175% of 2020 federal poverty guidelines. For example, a single-person household is eligible with an annual gross income at or below $22,330. A family of four is eligible with an annual gross income at or below $45,850.

Eligible customers who need help with energy bills should apply for LIHEAP at a local community action agency. The Iowa Department of Human Rights has additional information about the program and eligibility requirements.

  • Nebraska LIHEAP
    The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services administers the state’s LIHEAP assistance.

To be eligible for LIHEAP in Nebraska, the total household income for an applicant must be at or below 130% of 2020 federal poverty guidelines. For example, a single-person household can qualify with an annual gross income at or below $16,588, and a family of four can qualify with an annual gross income at or below $34,060.

Nebraska customers can apply for assistance through March 31, 2021 for the 2020-2021 heating season. LIHEAP application forms are available through the ACCESSNebraska website, by phone at 800-383-4278, or at a local Nebraska DHHS office.

  • South Dakota LIEAP
    South Dakota’s Department of Social Services distributes Low-Income Energy Assistance Program funds on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligibility for South Dakota’s LIEAP is based on the number of people residing in the home, type and cost of heating, and the household income. For example, a single-person household can qualify with a maximum 3-month income of $6,380 or less and a four-person household can qualify with a maximum 3-month income of $12,969 or less.

South Dakota LIEAP application forms are available at the South Dakota Department of Social Services website, by phone at 800-233-8503 or at local DSS offices.

Additional pandemic-related utility bill relief

Several states currently offer limited-time pandemic-related utility bill and utility debt assistance if they experienced a COVID-19-related loss:

  • Iowa: The Iowa Residential Utility Disruption Prevention Programprovides eligible households with up to $2,000 toward certain utility services, including electric and natural gas, if they are at risk of disconnection due to an inability to pay due to a COVID-19-related income loss. More information about the program is available at iowafinance.com or by calling 515-348-8976. The application deadline is November 20, 2020.
  • South Dakota: The South Dakota CARES Housing Assistance Program provides qualifying South Dakota residents up to $1,500 per month in temporary housing expenses, including utility bills, if they have experienced a particular COVID-19-related loss. More information is available at sdhda.org or by calling 211. The application deadline is December 18, 2020.

Budget billing provides predictable monthly bill

MidAmerican Energy customers who want a more consistent monthly energy bill can opt for budget billing, which allows customers to pay the same amount each month for a set period of time. Budget billing does not lower rates but does offer a more predictable bill.

How you can help low-income customers this winter

To help those in need, customers can donate to MidAmerican Energy’s I CARE program. I CARE funds local assistance for heating bills and home weatherization for low-income residents and is administered through local community action agencies.

Customer donations fund I CARE, together with a 25% match from MidAmerican Energy. Tax-deductible donations to the I CARE program stay within the local community and go directly to help those in need. MidAmerican Energy customers can donate to the I CARE program via a checkbox on their monthly bill or can pledge online.


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