If you need help with your light bill, you can turn to various organizations and agencies for assistance. Your electric company also may run a program that can help cover your bill for the month. Generally, these programs are reserved for low-income households or people with medical conditions. Most programs only provide funding on a one-time basis to help with an unexpected hardship.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, is available in every state. However, specific eligibility guidelines and benefits vary based on your location. Some states award funds exclusively to non-profit organizations and churches, which then help residents in need. Other states run programs that provide a one-time benefit to qualifying households for energy bills and weatherization services. The U.S. Office of Community Services provides information on each state's LIHEAP program, including contact information.
The Salvation Army
Depending on the office policies where you are located, the Salvation Army may have funding available to provide emergency assistance with basic needs, including utility bills. The Salvation Army also teams up with state, county, non-profit organizations and utility companies to offer assistance programs for households in danger of having their electricity disconnected. For example, Relief for Energy Assistance Through Community Help is an energy-assistance program sponsored by the utility company PG&E and administered through the Salvation Army in that utility's service area.
Your Utility Company
Utility companies may offer discounted rates or programs for people with certain medical conditions. California utility companies participate in the Medical Baseline Program, for example, which bills customers at the lowest residential rate if they're using lifesaving electric powered devices.
Programs also are available to low-income customers. For example, utility companies throughout the country participate in the Operation Round Up program. Customers help others by electing to round their utility bills up to the nearest dollar. Those facing a hardship or emergency can apply for assistance with their utility bill through the program. Other utility companies run similar programs funded by customer contributions.
Your Local Public Utility Commission
Your local public utility commission will have information about various assistance programs offered by your state, non-profits or utility companies. Refer to your state's public utility commission website for information. Look for a "Save Money" or "Need Help" heading. For example, Lite Up Texas is a state-wide program available to help low-income residents with their electric bills during the summer months. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio lists several programs, including the Home Energy Assistance Program, the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus program, Winter Crisis Program, Summer Crisis Program and HeatShare.