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. Under the New Jersey plan assistance is provided for heating assistance, emergency crisis assistance, and medically necessary cooling assistance. Applications are available October 1, 2012 to April 30, 2013 through a network of local application agencies.
Crisis assistance will be available until May 30, 2013 but only to those households that have applied by the regular April 30th application deadline.
Households certified for LIHEAP and/or the Universal Service Fund (USF) are among those protected against utility shutoffs from November 15 to 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 the TRUE program or the statewide nonprofit New Jersey SHARES.
The current income limits for energy programs in New Jersey are:
Monthly LIHEAP Income Limits 2012-2013
Monthly USF Income Limits
Monthly NJ SHARES Income Limits
Yearly Weatherization Income Levels
Yearly TRUE Maximum Income Limits*
For LIHEAP for each additional household member add $154; for USF add $578. For Weatherization for each additional member add: $4,020. *The TRUE program also has a mimimum annual income requirement. The minimum income requirement for households are as follows: Households size 1 - $22,356; 2 - $30,276; 3 - $38,196; 4 - $46,116; 5 - $54,036; 6 - $61,956; 7 - $69,876; 8 - $77,796; 9 - $85,716. To qualify for TRUE annual income must fall within the minimum and maximum income range. TRUE income guidelines are effective October 1, 2012.
The following are available at the Department of Community Affairs website or available for downloading:
- 2013 NJ LIHEAP Benefit Grid
- Application for LIHEAP/USF/Weatherization Assistance
- Local Application Agencies
- LIHEAP/USF Fact Sheet
- USF Frequently Asked Questions
- LIHEAP Model Plan FY 2013
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 - a state funded program and is available to people at least 65 years of age or disabled and receiving Social Security disability benefits. The income limits are $24,432 for an individual or $29,956 if married. Applicants can call the Lifeline/PAAD Hotline at 800-792-9745 or their Aging & Disability Resource Connection/Area Agency on Aging.
- Temporary Relief for Utility Expenses (TRUE) is a program established by the Board of Public Utilities to provide one-time relief for gas and electric bills to moderate income households who are experiencing a temporary financial crisis. The Affordable Housing Alliance administers the program. One of the eligibility requirements for a TRUE grant is that you must not currently be receiving or have received within the past year, any benefit through the USF or LIHEAP program. Their website provides a list of application sites. For more information about TRUE or to fill out an initial intake form call them at 732-982-8710.
- New Jersey SHARES - a statewide 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides assistance to electric and gas 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) are not eligible. NJ SHARES is comprised of a network of more than 270 community based social service 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 webpage for details.
- Weatherization Assistance Program - a federally funded program. It enables low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. The income limits are set at 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. The program is administered on the local level by community based organizations under the auspices of the Department of Community Affairs. See their income guidelines or contact your local Weatherization Assistance Program agency.
- Comfort Partners - is a state funded program designed to improve energy affordability for income eligible households. Eligibility requirements include: a household with significant electric 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 automatic heating benefits through their County Welfare Agency. Households not selected should contact the state LIHEAP Hotline at 800-510-3102. To obtain LIHEAP information for other states see the National Energy Assistance page.