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Friday, October 04, 2013 12:00 AM

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COLUMBUS — The Ohio Neighbor to Neighbor Program, a partnership between AEP Ohio, a unit of American Electric Power, and Dollar Energy Fund, one of the largest hardship funds in the country, is now providing utility assistance grants for the 2013-2014 program year. Eligible, low-income AEP Ohio customers can apply for assistance to maintain or restore safe electric service.

Dollar Energy Fund’s Hardship Program provides one-time assistance to families facing an immediate utility crisis. With help from the Neighbor to Neighbor Program, families in need can receive a grant that’s applied directly to their AEP Ohio account and prevents the termination of their electric service.

“Many families in communities across Ohio struggle to make ends meet or they have realized an unexpected expense that creates a temporary financial crisis jeopardizing their utility services,” said Chad Quinn, Dollar Energy Fund’s Chief Executive Officer. “The Neighbor to Neighbor Program will continue to be available to lend a temporary helping hand for those Ohio households who may struggle with paying their electric bill as they worry about feeding their families and covering all other household costs.”

AEP Ohio and Dollar Energy Fund launched the Ohio Neighbor to Neighbor Program in May 2009. Since then, more than 85,236 Ohio families and households have received over $7.3 million in utility assistance grants. Last year, the Neighbor to Neighbor Program helped 17,057 low-income families with their AEP Ohio electric bill.

“Financial hardship is something that affects too many Ohio families so this program was made available to provide much needed assistance to help get families back on their feet,” said Pablo Vegas, president and chief operating officer for AEP Ohio. “AEP Ohio is committed to helping our customers as these challenging economic times continue.”

The Neighbor to Neighbor Program’s network of more than 120 Ohio Community Based Organizations are now taking applications. To qualify, total gross household income must be at or below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. For example, a family of four earning up to $57,625 per year is income eligible for the program. Households must have made a sincere effort of payment on their electric bill in the last 90 days and have a back balance. Full eligibility guidelines and application instructions can be found at www.dollarenergyfund.org.

The program will accept heating assistance applications through April 30, 2014, for customers whose service has been disconnected or is at risk of being disconnected. The program will reopen from June 1, 2014, through Aug. 31, 2014, for households seeking cooling assistance.

The Neighbor to Neighbor Program in Ohio is funded by public contributions that are matched dollar for dollar by AEP Ohio. Utility customers may make a contribution through their monthly AEP Ohio bill. Donations also can be made online at www.dollarenergyfund.org or by sending a check directly to the Ohio Neighbor to Neighbor Program, L-3285, Columbus, OH 43266-3285. Every donation to the Neighbor to Neighbor Program receives is used to assist low-income families residing in Ohio.

For more information about Dollar Energy Fund and how to apply for the Hardship Program or donate to the organization, visit www.dollarenergyfund.org.

 

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