Payment Assistance Programs

Assistance CoverHere you'll find information on special payment plans and programs that may help meet your energy needs and protect you from natural gas and electric service shut-off. If you need help paying your bill, we recommend you Call 2-1-1 in your community first. 2-1-1 coverage map.

Download our assistance programs brochure

Are you 65 or older?
Let us know if you are 65 or older and the head of the household. You may qualify for shut-off protection, no late payment charges and automatic eligibility for payment plans regardless of income. Call (800) 477-5050 or email customer@consumersenergy.com. Please have your account number handy.

Call 2-1-1. Get Help or Give Help

Spearheaded by the United Way, 2-1-1 is a free phone service that links people with information or agencies that can help with energy assistance and other needs.  Calls are confidential and answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Translation service is available.

About 99 percent of Michigan residents have access to 2-1-1. It is available in the majority of the Lower Peninsula and across the Upper Peninsula with planned expansion statewide. Current Michigan 2-1-1 databases maintain information on over 8,500 agencies with more than 75,000 public, non-profit and faith-based health and human service programs, including free tax assistance sites. For more information, visit uwmich.org/2-1-1.  

Affordable Rental Housing 

Contact: Michigan Housing Locator

People looking for affordable rental housing may use the free Michigan Housing Locator

Home Heating Credit 2013 GuidelinesHome Heating Credit (HHC) 

Contact: Michigan Department of Treasury

You may apply for a Home Heating Credit for 2013. To apply, you must meet the income guidelines and own or rent the home where you live (includes rented apartments and mobile homes).

You may get the Home Heating Credit Claim form (MI-1040CR-7) wherever other tax forms are provided. The deadline to file is Sept. 30, 2014. You need not file an income tax return to apply for this credit. The average Home Heating Credit for 2012 tax year was $144.

HHC Booklet
HHC Form
HHC Supplemental Form 

 

Low Income Home Interest Loans

Contact: Michigan State Housing Development Authority or (517) 373-8017

MSHDA offers qualified low-income households low interest home improvement loans of 4 percent to 8 percent, depending upon income. Loans of 8 percent also are available to qualified landlords. Homeowners can borrow up to $25,000 without any equity to add insulation, replace the furnace, install energy efficient windows and pay for other eligible energy improvements. For more details visit the MSHDA Web site and click on the Home Improvement link. You also may call (517) 373-8017.

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Shut Off Protection 2013 GuidelinesShut-off Protection Plan (SPP) 

Contact: Consumers Energy at (800) 477-5050

This plan provides year-round protection from shut-off and is available to customers with a household income at or below 200 percent of the federal income eligibility guidelines.

The plan requires:

  • Initial down payment of 10 percent of your total bill
  • Participating in a budget plan that spreads our your annual energy costs into 12 equal payments plus 18 equal monthly payments on your past-due balance

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Winter Protection Plan 

Contact: Consumers Energy at (800) 477-5050

The Winter Protection Plan may protect low-income customers and seniors age 65 and older from service shut-off and high payments during the winter (Nov. 1 to March 31). Customers are responsible for electricity and natural gas used, but some of the costs can be deferred.

Winter Protection Plan 2013 GuidelinesEligible low-income and senior customers may sign up for the Winter Protection Plan beginning Nov. 1.

Participation does not relieve customers from the responsibility for paying for electricity and natural gas usage, but may prevent shut-off during the winter months.

  • If you qualify, you'll pay an initial down payment of 1/12 of any past due bills.  Each month, from November through March, you'll pay 7 percent of your estimated annual bill along with a portion of any past-due amount.  When the protection period ends March 31, you must pay your full monthly bill, plus part of the amount you owe from the winter months when you did not pay the full bill
  • At the end of the protection period, both low-income and senior citizens participating in the plan must make arrangements with their utility company to pay any money owed before the start of the next protection period.
  • Protections do not apply for accounts with unauthorized usage within the past two years at your current address.
  • You qualify for the plan if you meet at least one of the following requirements:
    • You have a household income at or below 150 percent of the federal income eligibility guidelines
    • You are age 65 or older
    • You receive Michigan Department of Human Services cash assistance (including State Supplemental Security Income)
    • You receive food stamps
    • You receive Medicaid

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Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC) 

Contact: U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service or (800) 829-3676

The Earned Income Credit is a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income workers. Those who qualify will owe less in taxes and may get a refund. Even a person who does not generally owe income tax may qualify for an EIC, but must file a tax return to get the credit. If you are married, you must file jointly to qualify. To file, fill out Form 1040 or 1040A and attach the EIC form.

Do I qualify for EIC?

EIC Questions and Answers

Form - Schedule EIC 1040A or 1040

State Earned Income Tax Credit (SEIC)

Contact: Michigan Department of Treasury

For the 2013 tax year, a taxpayer may claim a Michigan earned income tax credit equal to a percentage of the federal earned income tax credit for which the taxpayer is eligible, if any.

The Michigan credit will provide assistance to workers struggling to keep up with rising costs. Watch for additional information in the 2013 Michigan income tax booklet.

PeopleCare 

Contact: The Salvation Army - Eastern Michigan Division or The Salvation Army - Western Michigan and Northern Indiana Division

If you have suffered a job loss, home foreclosure or are dealing with high or unexpected medical bills, emergency help may be available. PeopleCare helps people and families with emergency needs, such as food, clothing, transportation, shelter, home heating and medicine.

Consumers Energy customers and employees contribute money to PeopleCare, and the company provides bill credits to help with energy bill payments. The Salvation Army determines eligibility and distributes the aid.

If you or someone you know needs emergency help, please call your local Salvation Army. To donate to PeopleCare, call (800) 477-5050 or visit consumersenergy.com/peoplecare.

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State Emergency Relief (SER) Program 

Contact: Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS)

Consumers Energy customers can now apply for SER online at MI Bridges.

You do not have to be a client of the DHS to apply for energy assistance through the SER program. This program assists low-income households that have a heat or electric past due notice, shut-off notice or a need for deliverable fuel. Most funds for energy assistance will be distributed between the crisis season of Nov. 1 and May 31. The SER program may assist customers outside the heating season for extenuating circumstances and subject to availability. If you receive a DHS cash grant, you may use part of it toward your energy bills. Contact your DHS caseworker for information on the advantages of vendoring a cash grant. For details, contact your local DHS office or the Home Heating Hotline at (855) 275-6424. Apply online at: Michigan. gov/mibridges.

Medical Emergency Protection

Contact: Consumers Energy at (800) 477-5050

If you have a qualifying, documented medical emergency, you could be protected from energy service
shut-off for nonpayment of your energy bill for up to 21 days. You must provide us with written proof from a doctor or a notice from a public health official that service shut-off will aggravate an existing medical condition. For additional information please see the Michigan Public Service Commission Consumer Standards and Billing Practices For Electric and Gas Residential Service.

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Low-income Weatherization 

Contact: Michigan Community Action Agency Association

If you meet low-income guidelines (150 percent of poverty), you may receive help to lower your energy bills when you weatherize your home or rental unit. Weatherization steps may include caulking, weather stripping, insulation and smoke detectors.

You automatically qualify for this program if you participate in the Family Independence Program administered by DHS or receive Supplemental Security Income.

Elder Law of Michigan 

Contact: www.elderlawofmi.org or (800) 347-5297

Older adults and people with disabilities can get help paying for the cost of important basic needs: food, medicine, healthcare, utilities, housing and taxes.  Make one call for help, and stop struggling to make ends meet! Contact Elder Law's benefits enrollment and options center to learn more.

Third-party Notification 

Contact: Consumers Energy at (800) 477-5050

With your written authorization, we can send a copy of any shut-off notice you receive to a third party. This may include a consenting friend, relative or agency. Your third-party contact is not responsible for paying your bill, but may act as a liaison between you and Consumers Energy.

Helping Neighbors:  Energy Efficiency Assistance 

Contact: Call (877) 448-9433 or visit www.consumershelpingneighbors.com

Consumers Energy’s Helping Neighbors program helps you save money through energy efficiency improvements.  At no cost, households at or below 200 percent of federal poverty (see Shut-off Protection Plan chart) can receive an onsite assessment, educational materials, and energy saving products or services such as a furnace operations and maintenance tune-up.  Whether you’re a homeowner, a renter, or a member of a community organization, you can help spread the word about free services through Helping Neighbors.

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Lifeline 

Contact: Local Landline Telephone Company

Lifeline makes basic telephone service more affordable for low-income eligible households in Michigan. Contact your local telephone company for details. MPSC Consumer Alert Link-up/Lifeline

Shut-off Protection: Active Duty in the Military 

Contact: Consumers Energy at (800) 477-5050

If you or your spouse is the customer of record and is called to full-time active military service by the president of the United States or the governor of Michigan during a time of declared national or state emergency or war, you may apply for shut-off protection for up to 90 days and you may request an extension of this protection by reapplying.

You must provide verification of active duty status. At the end of active duty, you must notify us of your status. You still will be required to pay for the energy you used during your participation in this program. We will set up a payment plan for all past-due amounts to be paid within one year.

Michigan Veteran’s Trust Fund 

Contact: http://michigan.gov/dmva or (517) 284-5299

Temporary assistance for emergencies or hardships, including energy assistance, is available to eligible wartime veterans and their families in Michigan.

County Contacts for Veterans with Emergencies

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Consolidated Vendoring Warrant (CVW) Program 

Contact: Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS)

Through the Consolidated Vendoring Warrant Program, the Michigan Department of Human Services, will send us an amount withheld from your Family Investment Program or State Disability Assistance grant. This probably won't be enough to pay your bill in full. You will be responsible for paying the part of your bill not covered by your DHS grant.

You must pay your energy bill, including any past-due amount, or your service could be shut-off. If you receive a shut-off notice, please talk to your DHS caseworker right away.

For more information, contact your local Michigan Department of Human Services, or call (800) 292-5650.

Read this brochure for more information on the Consolidated Vendoring Warrant Program.

The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) 

Contact: THAW or call (800) 866-THAW

Like PeopleCare, The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) provides emergency help to low-income families and individuals in Michigan who are in danger of losing heat or electricity during the winter months.

This nonprofit organization receives contributions from individuals, foundations, businesses, churches, energy providers and others, and distributes funds January-May each year via an electronic voucher paid directly to the energy or fuel provider. Consumers Energy supports THAW by matching dollar for dollar the THAW contributions that are used for Consumers Energy customer bill payments.

To apply for help from THAW: Dial THAW at (800) 866-THAW

IncomeGuidelinesConsumers Affordable Resource for Energy (CARE)

PROGRAM IS FULL. Customers with a household income not greater than 150 percent of federal poverty level are eligible to apply for energy bill credits (40 percent of monthly energy charges) through August 2014 and access to energy-saving tools, including in-home energy efficiency upgrades. To learn more about the CARE, visit the program’s FAQs page.

 

The Coalition to Keep Michigan Warm

The Coalition to Keep Michigan Warm is a group of concerned citizens and organizations seeking to improve the availability of resources to meet the energy needs of Michigan's low-income households. From the Coalition's website, you will find a direct link to Michigan's Energy Assistance Directory. The Coalition welcomes both individual and organizational supporters to join via the website. Supporters will receive periodic Action Alerts about advocacy opportunities in their communities.

Payment Arrangements

When you need more time to pay your bill, visit eServices to make Payment Arrangements from the privacy of your home, or call (800) 477-5050 right away. We'll be glad to work with you.

Other Energy Assistance Programs 

Learn about additional heating assistance programs provided by the state of Michigan.

Getting In Touch with Consumers Energy 

To receive information and service, please e-mail us or call (800) 477-5050.

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