Millions available to ease burden of Michigan winter heating costs


  • Shutterstock

Winter may no longer have a grip on Michigan, but some folks might be feeling a chill just by opening their next home heating bill.

Furnaces were working overtime last month because of a cold snap, and Lauren Youngdahl Snyder, vice president for customer experience at Consumers Energy, said utility customers could find their bills are 25% higher or more.

"February was actually one of the five coldest Februarys on record, and so we know customers might see a little bit of sticker shock," she said, "and we also know that there are tremendous amounts of dollars and resources available that have been untapped."

No matter the circumstance, Snyder said there are programs to help every type of utility customer. Consumers Energy and other utilities offer payment arrangements. People also can call 211 to be connected with nonprofit agencies that can assist with applications for a Home Heating Credit or State Emergency Relief.

A year into the pandemic, an estimated 38% of Michigan households are living above the federal poverty level, and yet don't earn enough to afford their basic daily living expenses. Snyder said Consumers Energy already has provided $15 million in assistance to get energy bills paid since last fall.

"This could be the very first time that they're experiencing a situation where they don't know how they're going to pay their energy bill. That's happening to many people right now, and we are here to help you figure out a solution," she said. "The other thing to do is to call 211 or go to"

According to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, U.S. households owe more than $27 billion in utility energy debt this year, compared with $11 billion at the end of 2019.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.