Colder temperatures will return to Lake of the Ozarks, and that could mean higher utility bills.
Ameren Missouri says help is available if you’re having a hard time paying for energy as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Officials say the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program has money remaining, but the number of applicants are low.
Ameren says it’s been helping Missourians keep up with energy costs since March.
Financial help available for central Missouri families facing COVID-19 hardship
Ameren Missouri encourages customers to apply for available energy assistance dollars and utilize payment programs
JEFFERSON CITY (Jan. 19, 2021) – Energy assistance dollars are still available for families in central Missouri who are experiencing financial strain due to the coronavirus pandemic. The federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), administered by the Missouri Department of Social Services, has funds available. Ameren Missouri is also offering payment agreements and working with customers to avoid disconnection.
“This time of year following the holidays can come with an extra financial burden for families, and the pandemic has made things even worse,” said Tara Oglesby, vice president of customer experience at Ameren Missouri. “That’s why we are continuing to offer payment plans with more flexible terms than normal, and doing everything we can to work with our customers during this challenging time. This includes working to ensure that families who are new to being in a low-income bracket are aware of what options are available.”
Since March, the company has helped thousands of Missourians with their statement balances and provided nearly $12 million in energy assistance and charitable contributions.
“We are encouraged because families in central Missouri are contacting us and our partner agencies every day for help, but we know thousands more are eligible for these funds and haven’t applied,” said Connie Taylor, manager of customer advocacy at Ameren Missouri. “When customers don’t reach out, their balances keep growing and available assistance dollars go unused.”
The following programs are ready to help customers who apply:
Federal assistance program: Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)
Federal assistance is available through LIHEAP, administered by the Missouri Department of Social Services. Ameren Missouri works with contracted community action agencies to distribute LIHEAP funds. Some LIHEAP agencies report an abundance of funding available, but a decrease in application volume.
LIHEAP can help in two ways; through a one-time payment for a heating bill from November through March, or through the winter Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP). ECIP helps pay up to $800 toward fuel bills when a household’s energy is shut off or at risk of disconnection.
To be eligible for LIHEAP funds, customers must:
- Be responsible for paying home heating costs.
- Have $3,000 or less in bank accounts, retirement accounts or investments.
- Have a household income less than 135% of the federal poverty level (a monthly income of $2,400 for a family of three or $2,897 for a family of four).
- Be a U.S. citizen or legally admitted for permanent residence.
- For more details, including a video explanation in English and Spanish, visit AmerenMissouri.com/LIHEAP.
Applying for LIHEAP has never been easier. To apply:
- Contact your local Community Action Agency; or
- Call 855-FSD-INFO (855-373-4636) to request an application; or
- Apply via a new online portal at MyDSS.MO.gov/energy-assistance
Ameren Missouri encourages customers to utilize LIHEAP funds to get current on their energy statement, then enroll in the company’s Keeping Current program to help stay on track.
Ameren Missouri’s Keeping Current program makes customer energy bills more affordable by offering monthly bill credits and a reduction in past-due balances. When qualifying customers remain enrolled in the program and stay current on their bills, they continue to receive ongoing credits along with reductions in the total amount owed.
Keeping Current is administered by contracted community action agencies. To apply, contact your local agency. Find more details and a list of participating agencies here.
Customers who owe for past due service have the opportunity to make a payment arrangement with Ameren Missouri to avoid disconnection. The Deferred Payment Agreement is a long-term installment payment option. It offers more time to pay a balance for customers who have active accounts.
The online payment assistance tool provides eligible payment assistance options based on a customer’s account status. Learn more at AmerenMissouri.com.
For a complete list of energy assistance programs, visit AmerenMissouri.com/
Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than 100 years, and the company’s electric rates are among the lowest in the nation. Ameren Missouri’s mission is to power the quality of life for its 1.2 million electric and 132,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. The company’s service area covers 64 counties and more than 500 communities, including the greater St. Louis area. For more information, visit Ameren.com/Missouri or follow us on Twitter at @AmerenMissouri or Facebook.com/AmerenMissouri.