Local News

Apply for help paying utility bills starting Sept. 1

Program open to residents in La Salle, Bureau, Putnam and Marshall counties

Income-eligible households in La Salle, Bureau, Putnam and Marshall counties can apply for assistance with utility bills.

The Tri-County Opportunities Council is an administrator for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps residents pay for natural gas, propane and electricity costs.

The 2021 program begins Wednesday, Sept. 1, and operates through May 31, 2022. Applicants will have the option to accept a one-time payment to a utility provider or to enroll in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan, which consists of a monthly benefit as long as households make monthly payments on time. The monthly plan is available to LIHEAP-eligible households that are customers of Ameren Illinois, ComEd and/or Nicor Gas. PIPP applicants will be enrolled on a first-come, first-served basis until the program reaches its maximum capacity of households.

Propane customers are encouraged to apply in September to take advantage of lower propane prices. Propane prices typically rise in the winter, so LIHEAP funds will be more beneficial for propane users who apply early, according to a news release from the Tri-County Opportunities Council.

There are no priority groups this year. Interested applicants can schedule an appointment by calling the Tri-County Opportunities Council at 1-800-323-5434. Applications will be taken by appointment at outreach offices or by request for mail-in, fax or online downloaded applications.

Required documentation for applications include:

  • Proof of gross income from all household members for 30 days preceding the date of application.
  • Proof of Social Security cards or taxpayer identification numbers for all household members.
  • A copy of a heat and electric bills issued within the past 30 days.
  • A copy of a rental agreement. If utilities are included in rent payments, provide the monthly rental amount and landlord contact information.

Additional documents may be needed based on individual housing situations.

Eligible households must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty level for LIHEAP benefits. The 30-day income guidelines for LIHEAP and PIPP are based on federal poverty guidelines, state median income and the number of individuals living in a household. Income guidelines are: one-person household, $2,147; two-person household, $2,903; three-person household, $3,600; or four-person household, $4,417.

For information about income limits for households with five or more people, visit tcochelps.org.

LIHEAP is available to residents in nine counties: Bureau, Carroll, La Salle, Lee, Marshall, Ogle, Putnam, Stark and Whiteside.