The Winter Protection Plan protects eligible senior and low-income members from service shut-offs and high utility bill payments during the winter months (Nov. 1–Mar. 31). You may enroll between Nov. 1 and March 31. If you are an eligible low-income member, your electric service will remain on from Nov. 1 through Mar. 31, if you:
- pay at least 7% of your estimated annual bill each month, and
- make equal monthly payments of 1/12 of any past due bills.
When the protection period ends (Mar. 31), from April 1 through Oct. 31, you must begin to pay the full monthly bill, plus part of the amount you owe from the winter months when you did not pay the full bill. Participation does not relieve members from the responsibility of paying for electricity, but does prevent shut-off during winter months. You qualify for the plan if you meet at least one of the following requirements:
- you are age 65 or older,
- you receive Department of Human Services cash assistance, including SSI,
- you receive Food Stamps,
- you receive Medicaid, or
- your household income is at or below the 150% of poverty level shown in the Income Guidelines chart (see chart below).
Senior citizen members (65 or older) who participate in the Winter Protection Plan are not required to make specific payments to ensure that their service will not be shut-off between Nov. 1 and March 31. However, seniors are encouraged to pay whatever they can during the winter so they will not have large, unmanageable bills when the protection ends.
Note: All members 65+ are eligible regardless of income. Members are responsible for all electricity used. At the end of the protection period, participants in the plan must make arrangements with the cooperative to pay any money owed before the next heating season.