Governor Snyder encouraged people using propane to heat their homes that if they had not filled up their propane tanks for fall yet, now was the time to get it done before the heating season arrived. Last winter with the bitter cold in Northern Michigan many people used more propane for heating their homes than normal. Spring came, but the temperatures were slow to rise and many people struggled to find more fuel when demand drove prices up. That’s good advice for people who have an extra $800 dollars in their checking accounts and can afford to purchase gas now, but for many people who rely on assistance to pay their heating fuel costs, they’re out of luck until November 1.
State Emergency Relief is available for low income households struggling to pay for things such as food, medical costs, or their utility bills. Until 2013, if a person had a shut-off notice from their electric company or they were about to run out of propane for heating their home, they could apply for help through Michigan Department of Human Services. That all changed with Public Act 615.
Starting November 1, 2013, the period low-income households could apply for help with energy costs through SER was reduced to six months, or November 1 to May 31. From June 1 to October 31 SER for energy assistance is not available. This past spring when it was still cold, struggling families had to find help from other programs such as FiveCap for help paying for their heat or electricity.
Rick Snyder apparently forgot or has no clue that most people who use deliverable fuel to heat their homes live in rural areas, areas where poverty is high due to lack of jobs. Suggesting people get their tanks filled now before the price goes up is no help to families who don’t have that kind of money available to spend on propane. The Tip Sheet issued by the state suggests nothing for how low income families get gas delivered now when they likely will have no means to pay for it until November 1.
Northern Michigan had a cooler than average summer and the forecast is for an early fall and another cold winter. Most people will need to turn their heat on before November 1, unless you’re poor and have no money to get your tank filled. One Tone-Deaf Nerd strikes again.