CONSUMERS ENERGY PAYMENT ASSISTANCE
HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT
If you’re concerned that you might have difficulty paying your energy bill,
emergency and ongoing aid may be available to better help you manage your
energy bills and meet other needs. Just choose one of the many assistance
options in this resource guide.
You may be eligible for more than one program:
6 5 and older eligible regardless of income - You may qualify for
shut-off protection, no late payment charges and automatic eligibility
for payment plans. Email [email protected] or call
With the Budget Plan, you can spread
out your annual energy costs into equal
payments. It’s a great way to help manage
your household budget. The exact amount
will vary from customer to customer.
The Budget Plan keeps
you smiling all year long.
Uneven payments without
the Budget Plan
G Third-party Notification
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.
The Winter Protection Plan protects
enrolled low-income customers and
seniors age 65 and older from service
shut-off and high payments during
the winter (Nov. 1 through March 31).
Customers are responsible for electricity
and natural gas used. Costs deferred
through the winter months will be
reconciled and billed in April.
Eligible low-income and senior
customers may sign up for the Winter
Protection Plan beginning Nov. 1.
Winter Protection Plan
(150% of poverty level)
Add $6,240 for each additional
Participation does not relieve you from
the responsibility of paying for electricity
and natural gas usage, but may prevent shut-off during the winter months.
BUDGET PLANS AND PROTECTIONS
G Budget Plan
ConsumersEnergy.com/assistance or 800-477-5050
with the Budget
Enrollment is free.
Medical Emergency Protection
If you or a member of your household have a qualifying, documented medical
emergency, or require home medical equipment or life support, you could be
protected from energy service shut-off for nonpayment of your energy bill for up
to 21 days with the possibility to obtain an extension for qualifying circumstances.
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.
• 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 1/12 of any
PROTECTION PLAN (SPP)
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 out your annual energy costs
into 12 equal payments plus 18 equal
monthly payments on your past-due
Shut-off Protection Plan
(200% of poverty level)
Add $8,320 for each additional
ACTIVE DUTY IN THE MILITARY
• You must make arrangements to pay any money owed before the
start of the next protection period.
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.
• Protections do not apply for accounts with unauthorized usage
within the past two years at your current address until charges are
ENERGY EFFICIENCY ASSISTANCE
• When the protection period ends on March 31, you must pay the
full monthly bill, plus the amount you owe from the winter months
when you did not pay the full bill.
You qualify for the plan if you meet at least one of the
1. You have a household income at or below 150 percent of the federal
income eligibility guidelines (see chart, above)
2. You are age 65 or older
3. You receive Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
cash assistance including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Food
Assistance or Medicaid.
CONTACT: Call 877-448-9433 or visit 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* can receive an on-site 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.
*See Shut-off Protection Plan chart, above.
CREDITS FOR RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS
CONTACT: Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050
Natural Gas Credits
Qualifying natural gas customers may save up to $138 on their annual gas bill
with the Income Assistance credit.
Income Assistance ($11.50 monthly credit): To qualify, you
must have received a Michigan Home Heating Credit (HHC) or ensure
your total household income does not exceed 150 percent of the federal
poverty level*. Consumers Energy automatically will qualify gas customers for
the income assistance credit upon notification of a customer’s eligibility from a
qualifying agency. Documentation of eligibility is required every 12 months to
maintain enrollment in the income assistance credit.
Qualifying electric customers may choose only one electric credit provision
and may save up to $84 on their annual electric bill.
Income Assistance ($7 monthly credit): To qualify for this
provision, you must have received a Michigan Home Heating Credit or
ensure your total household income does not exceed 150 percent of the federal
poverty level*. Consumers Energy automatically will qualify electric customers
for the income assistance credit upon notification of a customer’s eligibility
from a qualifying agency. Documentation of eligibility is required every 12
months to maintain enrollment in the income assistance credit.
Senior Citizen ($3.50 monthly credit): Regardless of income, a
residential customer 65 years or older and head of the household qualifies
for this credit. The income assistance credit is designed to help seniors on fixed
incomes. If you sign up for the income assistance credit, you will be removed
from the senior citizen credit.
*See Winter Protection Plan chart, far left.
REBATES AND SAVINGS
AGENCY, STATE OF MICHIGAN AND OTHER EXTERNAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
CALL 2-1-1. GET HELP OR GIVE HELP
CONTACT: Call 2-1-1 or mi211.org
Supported 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.
STATE EMERGENCY RELIEF (SER)
CONTACT: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) at
You do not have to be a client of the DHHS to apply for energy assistance
through the SER program. This program, available Nov. 1 - May 31, 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 DHHS cash grant, you may use part
of it toward your energy bills. Contact your DHHS caseworker for information
on the advantages of vendoring a cash grant. For details, contact your local
DHHS office or the Home Heating Hotline at 855-275-6424. Apply online
at: Michigan.gov/mibridges. If you need assistance completing the online
application, find help near you at mibenefitsaccess.org
ICHIGAN ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
CONTACT: Call 2-1-1 for information about a MEAP provider in your area
Select agencies and utilities provide energy assistance programs that include
services to support self-sufficiency, such as one-time bill payment, budgeting,
and energy efficiency.
THE SALVATION ARMY • PEOPLECARE
CONTACT: Your Local Salvation Army
Since 1983, PeopleCare helps people and families with emergency
needs, such as food, clothing, transportation, shelter, medicine
and home heating. Consumers Energy customers and employees
contribute to PeopleCare for the emergency services program, and
the company provides bill credits to help with energy bill payments.
The Salvation Army determines eligibility and distributes the aid.
ELDER LAW OF MICHIGAN & MICAFE
CONTACT: 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.
CONNECT WITH US
ON YOUR FAVORITE
HOME HEATING CREDIT (HHC)
CONTACT: Your Telephone Company
CONTACT: Michigan Department of Treasury or Michigan.gov/treasury
In January, you may get the Home Heating
Credit Claim form (MI-1040CR-7) wherever
other tax forms are provided, from the
Michigan Department of Treasury (517636-4486), at Michigan.gov/treasury or at
Consumers Energy bill payment offices. These
forms are not available from retailers that accept
bill payments on behalf of Consumers Energy.
Lifeline makes basic local telephone service more affordable for income-eligible
households in Michigan (150 percent of poverty)*, reducing local service rates (20
percent or 25 percent for seniors 65+). All local wire line phone service providers
and some wireless companies are required to provide the discount. Contact your
telephone company or the front pages of your phone book for details.
*See Winter Protection Plan chart on other side.
THE HEAT AND WARMTH FUND (THAW)
CONTACT: ThawFund.org or 800-866-THAW (8429)
Customers who meet household income guidelines may be eligible for bill
payment assistance through THAW funds, administered by local agency partners
WEATHERIZATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (WAP)
CONTACT: Your Local Community Action Agency or MCAAA.org
If you meet income guidelines (200 percent of poverty)*, you may receive free
home energy conservation services to help lower your energy bills and save
money. Steps to weatherize your home or rental unit 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 Department of Health and Human Services or receive
Supplemental Security Income. For the agency nearest you, visit mcaaa.org.
For additional energy savings tips, visit energy.gov/energysaver.
*See Shut-off Protection Plan chart on other side.
MICHIGAN VETERAN’S TRUST FUND
CONTACT: Call 517-284-5299 or Michiganveterans.com and click
Temporary assistance for emergencies or hardships, including energy assistance,
is available to eligible wartime veterans and their families.
LOW INCOME HOME INTEREST LOANS
CONTACT: Michigan State Housing Development Authority at
Michigan.gov/mshda and click “Home Improvement” or call 517-373-8017
AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSING
CONTACT: Michigan Housing Locator at MichiganHousingLocator.com.
See also, “First Time Renters & Homeowners” on the consumer tips page at
You may apply for a Home Heating Credit for your 2015 primary heat source.
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 file the form as early as January.
The deadline to file is Sept. 30, 2016. Even if
your income does not require you to file taxes,
you can still apply for this credit. The average
Home Heating Credit for the 2014 tax year was
Home Heating Credit
2015 Tax Year
Add $4,571 for each additional
exemption. Special exemptions
may also be available.
You may request protection from shut-off from the time of filing until you
receive the credit. You will still be required to pay for the energy services used
during the protection period.
EARNED INCOME CREDIT (EIC)
CONTACT: U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service
800-829-3676 or IRS.gov/EITC
The Earned Income Credit is a refundable federal income tax credit for lowincome 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 the 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.
STATE EARNED INCOME CREDIT (SEIC)
CONTACT: Michigan Department of Treasury, Michigan.gov/treasury
For the 2015 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 assists working families
struggling to keep up with rising costs. Watch for additional information in the
2015 Michigan income tax booklet.
DO YOU NEED FREE FILING ASSISTANCE? For information regarding free, quality
options to file income tax returns or claim credits like the Home Heating Credit,
go to MichiganFreeTaxHelp.org or dial 2-1-1
(700) 2.6 MM 11/15 1010397
PRINTED IN MICHIGAN
AND PAYMENT PLANS
2015-2016 RESOURCE GUIDE