Most energy grants are geared toward assisting poor families. But a relatively new grant offered by ComEd is available to help middle- income households as well.
Most energy grants are geared toward assisting poor families. But a relatively new grant offered by ComEd is available to help middle-income households as well.
The Residential Special Hardship Program, a utility company that started in 2007, provides a onetime grant of up to $1,000 to customers with a documented hardship issue, such as medical, military, senior or disability, or job loss.
Families with incomes up to 400 percent of the poverty level are eligible for the program, making it a unique opportunity for middle-class households to get help.
Most energy assistance programs usually allow incomes up to 150 percent or 200 percent of the poverty level, said Kim Morris-Johnson, a ComEd spokesman.
A family of four with an annual household income of $84,800 could qualify for the grant, Johnson explained. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the federal poverty level for a family of four is $21, 200 a year.
“We realize our customers are hurting from the economy, and we know the economy is causing further hardship for many households who struggle to make ends meet each month,” said Frank Clark, ComEd chairman and CEO. “So to help those families, ComEd has a special program in place to assist families who have experienced hardship situations and (are) unable to pay their electric bill.”
In 2008, ComEd awarded $4 million in hardship grants and has a $5 million cap this year.
However, some consumer groups said ComEd should do more for households unable to pay their bill considering they increased their rates last year.
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