Helping seniors with heating bills - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Helping seniors with heating bills

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(02/04/13) - The cold weather we've experienced during the past few weeks has many people worried about their heating bills. A forum was held Monday in Flint to allay some of the concerns senior citizens may have.

Furnaces around Mid-Michigan have been getting quite a workout in the past few weeks. And that's especially worrisome for seniors on a fixed income.

"Whoever said knowledge and information is power, had it right on because this is what it's all about," said State Representative Woodrow Stanley (D) Flint, who organized the event.

Several governmental agencies and private concerns were there to answer questions from the seniors because there is a lot of concern and confusion about the types of programs available.

"We protect them during the heating season because we don't want to see any seniors freezing," said Sandra Philpott-Burke of the Michigan Public Service Commission.

The seniors say they get confused about programs like equal monthly payment plans and how to handle shut off notices. They were told to seek help the minute they realize they have a problem with their heating bills.

"All seniors need to contact the utility company to let them know they are a senior citizen," said

"Senior citizens 65 and older who are the customer of record for Consumers are protected from disconnection from November 1 and March 31," said Kevin Keane, Consumers Energy area manager.

"We want to make sure all seniors are protected simply because seniors tend to suffer from hypothermia and the Public Service Commission does not want seniors to have to make decisions on whether they heat their homes, whether they eat or buy their medicine," Philpott-Burke said.

The PSC and the Michigan Department of Human Services has a number of programs to make homes more energy efficient or give heating credits for seniors.

"We're here to say: 'We have help. Call us,'" Philpott-Burke said.

For more information on help for low-income utility customers, click here.

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