NAPERVILLE – Because of the bitterly cold, prolonged winter, Nicor Gas customers have used approximately 25 percent more natural gas to meet their heating needs this winter, resulting in many households experiencing higher energy costs, compared to the last few years. In an effort to help more eligible customers qualify for assistance through its Sharing Program, Nicor Gas will temporarily relax certain program requirements.
Starting March 24, the Nicor Gas Sharing Program will launch the Extreme Winter Relief Fund, which for a limited time, will offer grants to eligible customers without requiring them to make a matching payment.
Under the interim guidelines for the Extreme Winter Relief Fund, Nicor Gas will provide up to $300 to customers under 65 years of age and $350 for those older than 65 who meet all income and qualifying criteria and have made a payment(s) totaling $75 within the last 60 days of application date. The special Extreme Winter Relief Fund will run until April 28.
“We understand the harsh winter caused customers to use more natural gas to keep their homes warm, and as a result, some families may struggle to make payments on their heating bills,” said Beth Reese, president of Nicor Gas. “To counter some of the effects of the harsh winter, we have temporarily modified our Sharing Program to extend its financial assistance reach and provide more families in Illinois with relief on their heating costs.”
After April 28, the Salvation Army-administered program, which is supported by direct contributions from Nicor Gas customers, employees and a company match, will return to its original guidelines and continue to provide a one-time grant to help hard-working families, as well as seniors and individuals with disabilities, to pay winter home heating costs.
The Nicor Gas Sharing Program has helped more than 200 households in northern Illinois since September – the onset of one of the most extreme winter heating seasons in years. Since its inception in 1983, the program has provided financial assistance to more than 80,000 Illinois households. Applicants must be a residential heating customer of Nicor Gas with a payment due and have a household income between 150 percent and 200 percent of the federally established poverty level. They also must be ineligible for state or federal energy assistance programs.
Customers interested in applying for help through the Extreme Winter Relief Fund can visit any of 41 local Salvation Army offices, and should take with them the following documentation: proof of income, proof of residence (photo ID, such as a driver's license or state ID) proof of $75 payment within the last 60 days and current Nicor Gas bill.
Nicor Gas encourages customers to call 1-888-Nicor4u (642-6748) if they are struggling to pay their natural gas bills and want to take advantage of other financial assistance and bill payment options, such a deferred payment arrangement, in which customers who have fallen behind on their bill payments can spread their balance over an established period.
For more information about the Extreme Winter Relief Fund, visit www.nicorgas.com.