The heat is abating, which means we’ve got a few months until the chill sets in. The changing season might have you thinking about your utility bills. Do you need a little help making those payments? There are a few programs available from the District Government and the utility companies to help families with their utility bills.
Help with most utility bills is available through the District Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE) energy assistance centers, located at 2100 Martin Luther King Ave. SE and at 1207 Taylor St. NW. They offer a few different programs:
LIHEAP – Get Help with Energy Bills
DOEE assists income-eligible District households with the cost of heating and cooling (Pepco and Washington Gas) through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Eligible households can get between $250 and $1,800 as a one-time benefit. The amount is based on family size, total household income, heating source and type of housing.
DOEE also provides a hand to households that are disconnected from utility service or who have an oil tank filled to 5 percent or less. They also support those aged fifty-five or older. The agency will make a one-time payment to a utility for the amount owed—up to $750.
UDP – Reduce Utility Costs
The DOEE Utility Discount Program (UDP) helps low-income District residents cut utility costs. Utilities include electric, gas, water and sewer. The bills need to be in your name. You also must meet income guidelines from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Eligible customers can receive discounts of up to $962 annually on water and sewer, $475 on electric bills and $276 on gas.
You’ll need your most recent utility bills; government-issued photo ID; Social Security cards and proof of income for everyone in your home; and a disconnection letter if you have received one.
For both LIHEP and UDP, you can make appointments to meet in-person by calling 311 or 202-737-4404. Applicants may also apply online by visiting LIHEAP (https://doee.dc.gov/node/9412) or fax their completed and signed application to 202-671-0802 if you live in Wards 1 through 6 or (202) 673-6725 if you live in Wards 6, 7 or 8.
LIHWAP & CRIAC – Help with Water
DOEE is accepting applications for the Clean Rivers Impervious Area Charge (CRIAC) Residential Relief Program, a water utility discount program, reduces an eligible household’s total monthly water fees. In addition to this benefit, households will receive the Customer Assistance Program (CAP) discount as determined by income eligibility. That can mean reduced costs for up to the first 3,000 gallons of water and sewer services and reduced fees.
In addition to the LIHEAP and UDC programs offered through DOEE, both Washington Gas and Pepco offer an Arrearage Management Program (AMP). Those accounts are placed on a budget plan, which allows customers to spread the cost of gas bills over the entire year and enjoy peace of mind with predictable monthly payments for the next 12 months.
It’s similar to debt consolidation. AMP customers just need to pay a given amount on time. Every time that happens, 1/12 of the outstanding balance is forgiven—even if it is far more than the payment. When the 12-month budget plan is completed, the full outstanding amount is wiped away.
But, if you have a past-due balance of more than $3,000, you must first bring your past due balance to $3,000 or less. You can do that by seeking other eligible sources of support including visiting Washington Gas Cares at www.washingtongascares.com and www.pepco.com/MyAccount/CustomerSupport/Pages/DC/AssistancePrograms(DC).aspx
Contact Washington Gas via email: DCAMP@washgas.com, via phone at the DC AMP Hotline at 703-750-4399, or via mail at P.O. Box 57000, Springfield, VA 22150-7000. For further information or to enroll via Pepco, contact Pepco at 202-496-5830 or e-mail EnergyAssistanceMailbox@pepco.com
Utility Company Programs
In addition to programs in conjunction with DOEE, the utility companies themselves offer programs to help customers pay their bills.
DC Water may offer up to $2,000 in emergency bill assistance when a customer is approved for CRIAC Residential Relief. Call their customer service line at 202-354-3750 to see if you qualify.
If you are a renter or you pay your water bill through a condominium association, DC Water offers up to $2,000 relief through their Multifamily Assistance Program. Renters and occupants should call 202-350-9649 or visit dcwater.com/map for more information.
If you have a past due balance and just need flexibility to pay it (rather than funding), DC Water is offering more flexible repayment options with no late fees. Call DC Water at 202-354-3600 for more information.
One-time emergency Assistance of up to $350 is available from the DC Water SPLASH fund for those facing disconnection. The money comes from DC Water employees, and customers. It is administered by the Greater Washington Urban League. Call the Greater Washington Urban League Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 202-265-8200 to see if you are eligible.
Washington Gas Washington Area Fuel Fund (WAFF)
In partnership with the Salvation Army, Washington Gas also offers help with fuel bills, with a specific interest in keeping homes warm during the winter months. Regardless of eligibility for other assistance programs, you may receive help from WAFF by demonstrating proven need.
Applicants must have received notice of possible or actual disconnect, be in an emergency situation and be ineligible for other assistance programs. Household income and family size are the primary considerations in this program, but the terms are different than other programs. For instance, a family of four is eligible with an income of $103,200 or less.
You can apply one time per year; applications will reopen in January 2024. The Salvation Army Office serving Wards 7 and 8 is located at 2300 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE. Call 202-678-9771. Learn more at https://washingtonareafuelfund.org/eligibility/
Pepco offers budget billing and payment arrangements. They also offer an extended payment date plan that extends a payment due date by 14 days without a late charge. It is intended for customers whose total household income is from government or other low-income entitlement programs. To apply, contact Pepco at 202-833-7500.
Customers can also request a one-time 30-day delay paying your current bill, if the service is not pending disconnect and the account holder has never defaulted before. Check your eligibility here: https://www.pepco.com/MyAccount/MyBillUsage/Pages/OnetimePaymentDelay.aspx
Get more info on Pepco programs online at https://www.pepco.com/MyAccount/CustomerSupport/Pages/DC/AssistancePrograms(DC).aspx
For more information on Energy Assistance Programs at DOEE, visit https://doee.dc.gov/energyassistance