Economy
12:03 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Heating assistance for low-income Michiganders might be in trouble

Thousands of Michiganders could lose access to tens of millions of dollars in home heating assistance this winter. Last month, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that Consumers Energy no longer has to collect money from its natural gas customers for a low-income energy assistance program.

The fee had been in place since 2000 and the PSC had collected and distributed a half billion dollars in the decade since.  The commission planned to hand out about 80 million dollars to the Salvation Army and other non-profit groups October 1st.  But the Michigan Public Service Commission this week ordered Consumers Energy to put that money into an escrow account. 

Spokeswoman Judy Palnau says the commission is trying to decide what it should do to maintain the fund, which is supposed to be making payouts on October first.  

“This is all coming very quickly to that October one date.  And so, the commission will need to be….reviewing and initiating further orders.”

Palnau says about 80 million dollars is now on hold for low income energy assistance.