Utility companies and nonprofit charities combine to provide Rhode Island electric bill assistance programs. These need-based programs provide much needed assistance to low income households who are having trouble paying the cost of electricity.
The primary source of help is through a federal program known as LIHEAP, which stands for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The average household that is approved for LIHEAP funds receives approximately $645 in bill credits annually. For a lower income household, that can make a huge difference in getting through the cold winter months.
Applications are accepted through your local community action agency. These agencies are responsible for screening applicants to determine eligibility and for disbursing federal funds to needy applicants.
If you are in danger of having your electricity disconnected, you should apply for help immediately. Emergency services are available year-round. If you routinely need help with winter heating bills, you may receive assistance from November through March.
Narragansett Electric also provides dual programs to help you manage high electric bills. The first program provides a discounted electric bill (approximately $9 a month). To request consideration for a lower rate, call Narragansett’s toll-free service line at 1-800-322-3223.
The second program at Narragansett Electric is a special efficiency program designed to help you replace older energy hogging appliances with more efficient models. You may request a free visit from an energy manager who will be able to calculate how much each one of your appliances costs to operate as well as reveal the estimated savings should you replace an appliance with a more efficient model.
The Salvation Army does collaborate with your utility company to provide the Good Neighbor Energy Fund. This service is designed to be a last resort due to limited funding (maximum grant amount is $300 per household). It can help though, especially if you have maxed out your annual benefits or do not otherwise qualify for the other electric bill assistance programs.
While you might be tempted to take out high-interest short term loans to get by, make sure that you take advantage of the cash grant programs listed above. After all, those funds never have to be repaid!
Long is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Industrial Relations. He subsequently received his Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. His Certificate in Financial Planning was issued by Florida State University.
Long has achieved the Accredited Credit Counselor and Accredited Financial Counselor certifications through the Association for Financial Counseling, Planning and Education. Long originally achieved the Certified Credit Counselor designation through the National Institute for Financial Education.
In addition to years of nonprofit leadership, Long has been an innovator in the field of volunteer tax return preparation programs. He assists volunteer associations and nonprofit organizations who seek to integrate credit counseling and asset-building programs with free personal income tax preparation. His approach to using free credit reports as both an incentive and a screening tool for placement into asset-building programs has been shared with members of the National Community Tax Coalition, the EITC-Carolinas Initiative of MDC, Inc. and nonprofit groups across the Carolinas.
Long assists members of our armed forces in the Carolinas, Iowa, Rhode Island, Georgia and Germany with financial readiness. Please support our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors!
"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."