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Heating bill help available for those feeling the cold

  Whether you heat with wood, propane, oil or electricity, your household budget could feel the pinch this winter.

  People are encouraged to find ways to reduce their heating costs, but some budgets are just too tight to absorb the added expense.

  That’s where HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program) for low-income households can help. Locally, the Plumas County Community Development Commission administers this program.

  The program helps eligible households pay their home energy bills by making a payment directly to a utility company or supplier.

  The program will pay for wood, propane, fuel oil and electricity.

  Community Development Director Dave Keller said that of the requests his office has received for assistance, half of the applicants heat with propane, 30 percent with oil and 20 percent with wood.

  Keller said that his department is releasing the remainder of the money available for 2012, and then will prepare for 2013.

  “We are gearing up as winter approaches,” Keller said. “We have a wait list for energy assistance.”

  Eligible households are those whose gross annual income is below qualifying income levels.

  For example, a family of three must have a gross monthly income below $3,347. There is a sliding scale that pays more for utilities for those who earn less income. For example, if a family of three earns $1,298.48 or less, then the payment would be $278, whereas a family that earns between $1,985.11 and $3,347.54 would be eligible for $167.

  Single people who bring in less than $768 can have $278 paid to the utility company, and one person can earn up to $2,072.28 and be eligible for $167 in assistance.

  Applications for assistance and more information can be found at plumascdc.org or by calling 283-2466.

  Additional help can be found directly from utility providers.

  PG&E offers its Electric Rate Reduction Program, also called CARE. Eligible households can receive a 20 percent reduction in their electric rate. Call 283-2466, ext. 113, to request an application or download it from the website referenced above.

  In the eastern portion of the county, Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative offers its Winter Rate Assistance Program (WRAP), which offers a discounted rate to income-qualifying members from November through April.

  For more information, call 832-4261 or go to its website, psrec.coop, and click on energy assistance. The WRAP application can be downloaded.

  Eligible households also can install energy efficiency improvements at no cost including weather-stripping, insulation, storm windows, water heater blankets, compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy related home repairs or improvements. For more information, call 283-2466.

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