Dollar Energy Fund and West Virginia Utility Assistance program
Utility and gas companies in West Virginia provide heating bill assistance through the West Virginia Utility Assistance Program, which is also known as the Dollar Energy Fund. These assistance programs have partnered with six of the major utility companies in West Virginia to provide funding and cash grants to help residents with their utility and heating bills. In one instance, Appalachian Power has provided $500,000 for the utility assistance program. West Virginian-American Water, Allegheny Power, Mountaineer Gas, Equitable Gas, and Dominion Hope have also contributed funding to the program.
Applicants do not have to be below the poverty line or necessarily be low income. People can learn more or apply for assistance from the Dollar Energy Program through their local Salvation Army branch. The heating bills that an applicant is seeking help with must be from one of program’s utility or gas partners. Another benefit of the Dollar Energy fund is that you do not have to have a cut off notice or already be disconnected from your heating or utility service.
With the weak economy across the state, many of the applicants seeking help are new to the experience of seeking any type of assistance. To put things into perspective, the number of grants provided as a result of the program have risen by 68 percent from this same time last year, and grants were distributed to 63 percent of these applicants. So most people who apply get help.
Applicants to the West Virginia Utility Assistance Program need to call their local Salvation Army branch and make an appointment to fill out a Dollar Energy application form. Please come prepared. They should bring their termination notice (if they have one), and the heating or energy bill they are seeking help with should be for $100 or more. Applicants must also have proof that they paid $100 on a bill in the last 90 days. The reason is that this is not intended to be a charity program, but it is intended to help people who have paid their bills in the past, and just need some short term help. The money they paid on their bill also cannot have come from another agency or government program. People 65 or older need to have paid only $75 in the last 90 days on a bill. This is called a sincere effort of payment, and is a requirement.