Marquette, Mich (WZMQ) – According to the Energy Information Administration the average Michigan household can expect to pay $1,013 to heat their homes this winter.
That’s a 33% increase from last winter, a big jump that according to the Superior Watershed Partnership is putting added stress on families that are already struggling to make ends meet.
The SWP is offering heat and electric bill assistance to those who are struggling to keep their homes warm this winter.
The partnership is also working with local businesses to supply fireworks to homes that use fireplaces.
Barry’s firewood right on US-41 outside of Ishpeming has partnered with the superior watershed partnership and the state of Michigan to provide those who need it with firewood.
According to Barry the collaboration has caused the small family business to grow, they’ve had to purchase new equipment. Barry says “our next purchase is gonna be tractors, processors, anything to make it easier on the guys and so we can help people heat their homes.”
Barry says that the need for firewood in the U.P. is large and even he was surprised by the amount of homes that rely on it to keep warm.
A press release from the SWP reads as follows:
Marquette, MI: Winter is here and the Superior Watershed Partnership’s Michigan Energy Assistance Program (SWP MEAP) has funding to assist Upper Peninsula residents with their heat and electric costs. SWP urges Upper Peninsula residents struggling with paying their heat and electric bills to contact the SWP MEAP Energy and Climate Office for assistance with home energy bills and energy efficiency services.
Households who are experiencing an energy crisis (past due bill, shut off notice, or need for deliverable fuel) should apply directly to the State Emergency Relief Program (SER) using the MI-Bridges website (www.michigan.gov/MIBridges) or with assistance from the SWP Energy Office staff. The completed application will determine eligibility for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Households must be at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level to qualify for SER and MEAP payment services (for example, a family of four must not have income exceeding $3,469 per month). The SWP Energy Office will assist any household with the SER application process and with SWP MEAP self-sufficiency services.
After the Michigan household has been approved for energy assistance through MDHHS, SWP MEAP can help with co-pays and subsequent heating and electric bills. SWP MEAP also offers affordable payment plans and energy security services including: energy education, financial counseling, free home energy score assessments, home weatherization, and free solar panel installation for up to three qualified households.
SWP MEAP collaborates with participating St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) Societies of the Upper Peninsula, Native American communities of the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Community Action Agencies (MCAA), and other project partners to implement a step-by-step energy assistance program for low-income households across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This collaborative, community approach helps struggling families in the U.P. of Michigan pay their energy bills, become more aware of home energy conservation, and receive the tools needed to gain the confidence and knowledge to budget for future energy costs.
The SWP Energy and Climate Office, located at 1104 N. 3rd Street in Marquette and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist residents with any energy related needs, including: MI Bridges account creation, SER application assistance, SWP MEAP requirements and assistance, energy education, financial counseling, and more. U.P. residents in need are encouraged to stop in to see us, or give us a call at 906-273-2742.