Policy 1.5.0:  Establishing Eligible Applicants and Their Responsibilities

Policy 1.5.0 (A):  Applicant Eligibility Criteria Defined 

The applicant must satisfy LIHEAP eligibility guidelines:

  1. The gross income received by all members of the household is at or below 125 percent of federal poverty guidelines.

    SEE: Policy 1.0.0, Client Eligibility

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Policy 1.5.0 (B):  The Applicant's Responsibilities Are Clear 

  1. The applicant must notify the utility within five business days of receiving an overdue notice, that payment cannot be made, including payment of a security deposit. 

  2. Within five days of notifying the utility, the applicant should contact the contractor. 

  3. The applicant must apply for energy assistance and, if provided by the contractor, weatherization assistance. 

  4. The applicant must provide self-certification of household income for the prior 12 months, plus any documentation required by the contractor. 

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Policy 1.5.0 (C):  Summary of the Winter Shut-Off Moratorium Program 

The purpose of Policy 1.5.0 is to comply with the Winter Utility Shut-Off Moratorium Program as enacted by House Bill 2059. The Moratorium program stipulates that a utility cannot discontinue energy service to a low-income customer for non-payment of an overdue heating bill between November 15 and March 15. Private and municipal utilities, and public utility districts that provide electric and gas service are required to comply with the law. (Utility cooperatives are not included.)

The moratorium law not only defined customer and utility responsibilities, but also the role of Commerce contractors to determine income eligibility and to provide energy and weatherization assistance.

When the low-income customer receives a notice of an overdue utility bill payment, the customer must notify the utility within five business days that payment cannot be made, including a security deposit. The customer must apply to the appropriate contractor for energy assistance and, if applicable, weatherization assistance. The customer provides self-certification of household income for the prior 12 months.

The utility must negotiate a payment plan with the eligible customer for the period of November 15 to October 15. The payment plan allows the customer to make a monthly payment no more than seven percent of their monthly income, plus one-twelfth of accrued arrear-age from the date of application, and therefore, between November 15 to March 15.

The customer must maintain the plan for the duration of the moratorium period. Benefits received under EAP must go toward paying the utility bill, and the customer might be required to renegotiate the payment plan with the utility. If there is a balance remaining at the end of the moratorium period (March 16), the payment plan will be recalculated to pay the bill off by the following October 15, as well as to pay for continued utility service.

A customer will not be eligible for moratorium protection the following year unless the past due bill is paid.

SEE: WAC 365-100, Winter Utility Moratorium Program 
       Policy 1.5.2, Moratorium Legislation

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