Changes made to the Home Energy Assistance Program
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Department of Administration (DOA) has adjusted the eligibility requirements, for residents who are seeking heating and electric assistance through the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP).
Eligibility will be now based on the household’s previous month of income, rather than the former requirement of the previous three months income. This move was made to ensure those who are recently affected by the COVID-19 response, are able to receive assistance quickly.
The majority of Wisconsin households currently utilize natural gas; however, there are still homes throughout the state that employ alternative fuels such as wood, propane and heating oil. WHEAP is able to provide financial assistance to households for most fuel types, with payments made directly to heat and electric suppliers, on behalf of an eligible household.
The announcement is a continuation of Wisconsin’s efforts, to ensure the burden of monthly energy costs is limited for individuals and families who are affected by the COVID- 19 crisis. A parallel effort to support affected families was made by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) March 22, when they directed regulated utilities to stop utility disconnection for non-payment for all customers.
Residents can apply for WHEAP assistance through county social/human service offices, tribal governments and private non-profit agencies.
If an individual is recently unemployed, received a layoff or disconnection notice, and are having difficulty paying energy bills, the DOA Home Energy Plus program may have additional resources available. Crisis assistance, emergency fuel assistance, and emergency heating system repair and replacement for eligible homeowners, may also be available, based on household need.