Apply For Utility Assistance Ahead of Winter Termination Program
Utility shutoff protections for eligible customers begin November 15; New Jersey receiving increased federal funding for utility assistance.
The Winter Termination Program (WTP) begins on November 15. The WTP is an annual program that prevents utility shutoffs for eligible customers during the cold, winter months. Assistance programs and utility payment plans are available to help customers remain current on their bill payments.
“We are giving you advance notice to take advantage of the WTP the day it begins to ensure you do not lose heat, power, or water service during the winter months,” said NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “The WTP is designed to help you avoid shutoff of utility service and has now been expanded to also protect water and wastewater customers. However, after the WTP ends, customers with past due balances are at risk of receiving utility shutoff notices, so I encourage everyone to avail themselves of our assistance programs.”
Notably, NJDCA will receive approximately $153 million in federal funding this heating season for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This funding amount represents an increase of about $25 million to $30 million over the usual amount NJDCA receives and means that more households in need of utility assistance can be served.
“Moderate-income households are now eligible for assistance as a result of increases in federal income limits. Therefore, if you’re finding it difficult to afford home heating expenses this year, don’t hesitate to reach out to DCA. Significant funding is available and we want to help New Jersey families keep up with their energy bills,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of NJDCA, which administers LIHEAP for the State of New Jersey.
Whether or not you qualify for WTP, if you are behind on utility payments, including water, wastewater, gas, and electric, call 2-1-1 or go to www.nj.gov/bpu/assistance/programs/ for information about how to apply for the available State assistance programs or contact your utility to set up a payment plan.
Customers need to contact their utility to request the protection of the WTP.
Customers who are eligible for Winter Termination Program protection include:
- Recipients of benefits under the Lifeline Credit Program;
- Recipients of benefits under the Federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), or certified as eligible therefore under standards set by the New Jersey Department of Human Services;
- Recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF);
- Recipients of Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
- Recipients of Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD);
- Recipients of General Assistance (GA) benefits;
- Recipients of the Universal Service Fund (USF); or
- Persons unable to pay their utility bills because of circumstances beyond their control. Such circumstances shall include, but shall not be limited to, unemployment, illness, medically related expenses, the recent death of an immediate family member, and any other circumstances, which might cause financial hardship.
Customers in the WTP program should pay what they can each month to avoid a large overdue balance at the end of WTP. The Winter Termination Program is administered by NJBPU. For more information call 1-800-624-0241.
LIHEAP helps households at or below 60 percent of the state median income (for example, $6,662 a month for a family of four) pay for home energy costs such as heating. The program is focused on helping households pay their current and past-due energy and heating bills.
Households can visit the DCAid portal at www.nj.gov/dca/dcaid to submit an application for LIHEAP assistance.
The DCAid portal also checks to see what other benefits the applicant may qualify for. People who do not have access to computers or the internet can call 1-800-510-3102 to be directed to one of the community action agencies partnering with DCA to assist them with starting, completing, and submitting an application online.
A list of the community organizations providing such assistance is available at https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dhcr/offices/agencydirectorylist.html
on the DCA website.
LIHEAP applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and assistance is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis so applicants should not wait to apply.
In addition to LIHEAP, DCA also administers the Low-Income Household Water Assistance (LIHWAP) program, which provides financial assistance to low-income households to reduce the balances they have on their residential water and wastewater bills. The benefits are paid directly to water and wastewater companies on behalf of residential customers. The LIHWAP program is actively accepting applications and people can apply through DCA’s one-stop online application portal at DCAid.
Participants in the LIHEAP program are automatically eligible for LIHWAP assistance as long as they are water/wastewater bill holders.