Utilizing the Reconnect program could keep you warm this winter

By Frank Lewis - [email protected]

There is no ideal time to have your heat shut off, but winter is the worst case scenario. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and Angela Davis of Community Action of Scioto County are reminding residents of the Winter Reconnect Order, which is designed to help consumers reconnect or maintain electric and natural gas service during the winter heating season. According to the PUCO the winter heating season is Oct. 17, 2016 and April 14, 2017.

The Winter Reconnect Order is designed for residents to avoid disconnection or to reconnect their gas and/or electric service once during the winter heating season. Customers who utilize the Winter Reconnect Order are required to pay the utility $175 plus any applicable reconnection charge not to exceed $36. If the company’s reconnection charge is greater than $36, the balance may be billed to the customer the following month.

Any customer of a PUCO-regulated electric or natural gas utility may take advantage of the order. Last winter heating season, more than 246,000 Ohio utility customers utilized the PUCO’s Winter Reconnect Order.

The Winter Reconnect Order also applies to customers seeking to establish new electric and natural gas service. Rather than paying the full security deposit that may be required for new service, customers can pay up to $175 and be billed any remaining balance of the security deposit the following month.

There is no income eligibility requirement to utilize the Winter Reconnect Order; however, customers who are at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty level may apply through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to pay the $175 amount.

“A customer does not have to be eligible for our programs to use the Winter Reconnect Order,” Davis said. “However, if they are eligible for our programs, they may use the Winter Crisis Program to pay the Winter Reconnect if their regulated electric (AEP) or gas (Columbia Gas) is shut off.”

Customers who have questions about the PUCO’s Winter Reconnect Order may contact the PUCO at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) or visit the PUCO’s website at www.PUCO.ohio.gov.

“Customers must remember that the Winter Crisis Program provides a one-time payment or benefit to eligible customers during the current program year which is Nov. 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017,” Davis said.

By Frank Lewis

[email protected]

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.