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Dominion East Ohio Reminds Customers Of PUCO Winter Reconnection Order, Payment Programs For Winter Heating Energy Assistance

CLEVELAND, Oct. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Residential customers of Dominion East Ohio whose natural gas service has been disconnected, or those who are in danger of loss of service because of nonpayment, may restore service or avoid disconnection under special winter heating reconnection procedures now in effect through April 15, 2013.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has issued its annual Winter Reconnection Order, which allows any Dominion East Ohio residential customer to restore service -- or avoid a shutoff -- by paying no more than $175. Under the order, customers who have had service disconnected for nonpayment, or are facing a shutoff, can have their service restored or avoid disconnection, by paying the amount they owe Dominion, or $175, whichever is less. A reconnect fee of $36 also will be billed to the account if the service has been disconnected.

There is no income eligibility requirement to use this program, and customers will be enrolled automatically in a payment plan to help pay off any past-due balance. The reconnection plan can be used only once between now and April 15, 2013. To take advantage of the reconnection plan, customers should call Dominion East Ohio at 1-800-362-7557.

Dominion East Ohio works with customers on an individual basis to help them maintain service. The company strongly urges customers who know they will not be able to maintain regular payments to contact Dominion East Ohio immediately,  to inquire about Dominion East Ohio payment plans and energy assistance programs.

Dominion East Ohio offers the following payment options to residential and small commercial customers (using less than 500 thousand cubic feet (MCF) a year):
  • Budget Billing allows customers to pay a fixed budget amount each month, based on annual gas usage. Dominion East Ohio will review the budget amount regularly and adjust it, if necessary, so that the customer will not have a high balance or large credit at the end of the budget year. Customers with a past-due balance may be eligible for the Budget Plus plan. Customers pay a budget amount, plus 1/12 th of the total account balance at the time they enroll in the plan. To sign up for either plan, customers should call Dominion East Ohio.
  • Current-Plus Plan: Customers with a past-due balance pay their current monthly bill, plus 1/6 th of the total account balance at the time they enroll in the plan.
  • The One-Ninth Plan allows customers to pay one-ninth of their total account each month plus a calculated budget amount.
  • Under the One-Third Winter Heating Plan, customers pay one-third of their total account balance each month for bills that include gas used from November 1, 2012, through April 15, 2013.
  • Short–Term Extension grants up to five additional days to pay before the next bill date.
  • Dominion East Oho also offers the Medical Certificate Program delays a shutoff, or restores service, when it could be life threatening, or especially dangerous to the health of a permanent member of the household. Verbal certification may be accepted by a licensed medical professional, provided that Dominion East Ohio receives the written notification within seven days. To receive a medical certification form, call 1-800-950-7989.

Government Assistance Programs  For customers on low or fixed incomes, energy assistance programs are available. Apply for all programs with one application at Applications also are available at post offices and libraries or by calling 1-800-282-0880. Income eligibility is required.

Winter Crisis Program: This statewide program can provide income-eligible households a one-time payment to help avoid a shutoff or to restore service due to nonpayment. Call 1–800–282–0880.

PIPP Plus: This statewide program, developed by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in conjunction with Dominion East Ohio and other regulated utilities, is available to customers with total household incomes at or below 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Under PIPP Plus, participating customers may maintain their natural gas service by paying 6 percent of their total gross monthly household income, or a $10 minimum payment, whichever is greater.

Each time participating customers make their required PIPP Plus monthly payments in full by the due date, Dominion East Ohio will credit their account for the rest of that month's current charges, plus a 1/24 th credit toward their prior account balance. After 24 months of full and on-time PIPP Plus payments, their accounts would become current.

Along with lower payments and increased balance crediting, PIPP Plus also carries the following penalties if customers fail to make their program payments:
  • Customers will have 30 days from their PIPP Plus anniversary date to make up any missed payments, or they will be removed from PIPP Plus. NOTE: Income-eligible customers interested in re-enrolling or maintaining participation in PIPP Plus must pay any remaining plan arrears in excess of $175 with their first bill following the $175 payment.
  • If participating customers do not re-verify their gross monthly household income once every 12 months, they will be removed from PIPP Plus. Customers can re-verify sooner if their household size or income changes.

PIPP Plus maximum yearly household gross income maximum levels for the 2012-2013 heating season are: $16,755 for one person; $22,695 for two people; $28,635 for three; $34,575 for four; $40,515 for five; $46,455 for six. Add $5,940 for each additional person.

Other governmental energy assistance programs include:

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