Utility Bills Adding Up, CARE Program Can Help

CARE Application Fairs to Aid Residents Struggling With Utility Bills

January 11 & 13 Events Offer Personal Assistance with Application Process

The Consumers Affordable Resource for Energy (CARE) program will hold two events to provide one-on-one support for Consumers Energy customers from across the region who need help applying for utility assistance.

CARE

CARE

The CARE Application Fairs take place on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, January 11, hosted at the Rochester Area Neighborhood House, 1720 S. Livernois St., Rochester Hills. The event runs from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Friday, January 13, at Mt. Calvary Community Center, 8129 Packard Ave., Warren. The event runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and is hosted by Urban Benedictine Community Outreach.

No reservation is necessary at either event. CARE staff will serve applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.

“We’re helping people get started on the application process so those who qualify for assistance can get it as soon as possible,” said Ken Toll, president and CEO of United Way of Jackson County. UWJC coordinates enrollment in CARE across Michigan on behalf of Consumers Energy.

Consumers Energy customers who qualify for the CARE program receive a monthly credit on their bill, assistance with their past-due balance and help with energy efficiency improvements. Applicants must have a Consumers Energy account that is past due and an outstanding balance below $2,000 (a higher balance may be eligible under certain circumstances); income equal or less than 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level; and no past theft or fraud incidents on the account. The account holder or spouse must apply.

Those who attend the CARE Application Fair should bring photo identification; three bi-weekly or five weekly pay stubs; and any information they have on unearned income, including child support, Social Security, cash assistance through the Department of Health and Human Services, or other income.

According to Toll, two factors drive the need for CARE: utility demand due to cold weather, and a large number of Michigan households in financial trouble. A 2014 statewide study of household economic stability commissioned by the Michigan Association of United Ways found four of every 10 households in poverty or struggling to stay out of poverty.

“Thousands of people are forced to make hard choices between paying their utility bills and feeding their families or buying their medicines. That’s how easy it is to get behind,” Toll added. “We’re grateful that Consumers Energy is sensitive to this need and eager to help those who qualify.”

“CARE is one of the most powerful tools that we offer at Consumers Energy to help people manage their energy bills,” said Garrick Rochow, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president of distribution and customer operations.

The Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) is the founder of the CARE Program.

UWJC is partnering with nearly 40 Michigan Benefits Access (MBA) sites across 20 counties to provide on-site support for those needing assistance with completing the CARE application. MBA is an initiative that aims to promote benefits access and streamline the application process for state and local support services.

Those who wish to apply to CARE but can’t attend the Application Fair can call (844) 220-6098, email CAREprogram@uwjackson.org, or go online to http://www.ConsumersEnergy.com/care or www.uwjackson.org/care-program to print an application. Interested customers can also request an application and return envelope at any of Consumers Energy’s 13 direct payment offices statewide. Find a listing of these offices at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/care.

 

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