New Jersey Energy Assistance Programs
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, LIHEAP, is a federally funded program that helps families and individuals with their energy bills. New Jersey's program is administered by the Department of Community Affairs. The New Jersey Plan provides for heating assistance, emergency crisis assistance and medically necessary cooling assistance. The application period will be October 1, 2015 to May 2, 2016 through a network of local application agencies.
Special Note: New Jersey extended the time period to request LIHEAP Emergency Assistance until May 31. Certain "pending cases" were given until May 31 to submit updated or missing documentation to their local agency.
Households certified for LIHEAP and/or the Universal Service Fund (USF) are among those protected against utility shutoffs between November 15 and March 15, in accordance with the Board of Public Utilities Winter Termination Program.
The state of New Jersey's LIHEAP income guidelines are based on 200% of the Federal Poverty Level(FPL). The gross monthly income limit for the Universal Service Fund (USF) is set at 175% FPL. Households not eligible for either of these programs may be eligible for temporary assistance from either the PAGE (Payment Assistance for Gas and Electric) or TRUE (Temporary Relief of Utility Expense) programs, both administered by the Affordable Housing Alliance on behalf of the Board of Public Utilities. Help is also available from New Jersey SHARES the statewide nonprofit via a network of more than 250 agencies at more than 300 sites. Weatherization programs, promoting energy conservation, are also available from Comfort Partners or the Weatherization Assistance Program.
Income limits are listed below for the following New Jersey energy programs: Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Universal Service Fund (USF), NJ SHARES, Payment Assistance for Gas and Electric (PAGE), Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and Comfort Partners.
Monthly LIHEAP Income Limits
Monthly USF Income Limits
Monthly NJ SHARES Income Limits
Yearly PAGE Max. Income Limits
Yearly WAP Income Limits
Yearly Comfort Partners Income Limits
The PAGE program also has a mimimum annual income requirement. The minimum income requirement for households is as follows: Households size 1 - $23,556; 2 - $31,872; 3 - $40,200; 4 - $48,516; 5 - $56,832; 6 - $65,160; 7 - $73,476; 8 - $81,792; 9 - $89,436. To qualify for PAGE the household annual income must fall within the minimum and maximum income range.
The following links are found at the Department of Community Affairs website and available for downloading:
- 2016 LIHEAP Benefit Amounts Table
- Application for LIHEAP/USF/Weatherization Assistance
- Local Application Agencies
- LIHEAP/USF FFY 2016 Fact Sheet
- USF Frequently Asked Questions
- New Jersey State LIHEAP Plan
Other energy programs include:
- Universal Service Fund (USF) - a state funded program. Eligibility requirements include: 1) income less than or equal to 175% of the Federal Poverty Level. See above income guidelines. 2) USF applicant must reside at the address provided on their utility account, and 3) an energy burden defined as a bill greater than 3% of household income, or 6% if electric heat. Benefits are credited monthly to the utility account. Households found eligible for LIHEAP benefits are screened automatically for USF. Applications for USF are available year round. USF credits can be transferred from one address to another so discuss details with the utility company when reporting a change of address.
- Fresh Start is a component of the USF program. It is available upon receiving USF for the first time. A household is automatically enrolled in the program if there is a balance of $60 or more on the bill. Under this forgiveness program the arrearage is set aside when a customer is placed in the program. The previous balance will be erased if the customer pays their bill for the next 12 months in full. Fresh Start is a one time only program and is only available the first time a customer is enrolled in USF. Details are available through the utility companies customer service representatives.
- Lifeline Credit Program is a state funded program available to people at least 65 years of age or disabled and receiving Social Security disability benefits. The income limits for 2016 remains at $26,575 for an individual or $32,582, if married. Applicants can call the Lifeline/PAAD Hotline at 800-792-9745 or their Aging & Disability Resource Connection/Area Agency on Aging.
- Payment Assistance for Gas and Electric (PAGE) and Temporary Relief of Utility Expense (TRUE) are programs established by the Board of Public Utilities to provide relief for moderate income gas and electric customers who are experiencing a temporary financial crisis. The Affordable Housing Alliance administers the program. One of the eligibility requirements for a grant is that a household has not a LIHEAP or USF benefit within the past year. See their website for a list of application sites. For more information about PAGE or TRUE call 732-982-8710.
- New Jersey SHARES - a statewide 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides assistance to energy customers with income above government program guidelines but below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. Applicants must demonstrate a temporary financial need and a history of good-faith payments. Households receiving other benefit programs (LIHEAP, USF, TANF, GA) may not qualify. NJ SHARES is comprised of a network of more than 250 intake agencies. Their toll free phone number is 866-657-4273.
- Gift of Warmth is available to New Jersey Natural Gas customers experiencing temporary financial hardship. See their payment assistance web page for details.
- Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) - a federally funded program. It enables the elderly, disabled and low-income persons in weatherizing their homes, improve their heating system efficiency and conserving energy. The income limits are set at 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. The program is administered by community based organizations under the auspices of the Department of Community Affairs. See their income guidelines or contact the local Weatherization agency.
- Comfort Partners - is a state funded program designed to improve energy affordability for income eligible households. Eligibility requirements include: a household with significant energy use, income within 225% of the Federal Poverty Level or receiving USF, Lifeline, or Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD). Participants receive installation of cost effective energy efficiency measures for their home plus personalized energy education and counseling. New Jersey Comfort Partners phone number is 888-773-8326.
- New Jersey Clean Energy Program , administered by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, offers financial incentives, programs and services to New Jersey residents, business owners and local governments to help them save energy, money and the environment. It promotes increased energy efficiency and the use of clean, renewable sources of energy. For more information call 866-NJ-SMART (866-657-6278).
Households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits - formerly food stamps - may receive heating benefits through information entered by their County Welfare Agency. Households not selected should contact the 2-1-1 Partnership by dialing "2-1-1" or the 800-510-3102, the LIHEAP Hotline. Applicants should call these phone numbers rather than their local application agency when checking on the status of their application.