Utility Assistance Programs
*COVID-19 ("Coronavirus") Announcement: Due to the financial impact of the pandemic, additional funds have been added to LIHEAP, our state's largest utility assistance program. Below you will find information about eligibility requirements, links to the application and a listing of application agencies. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, applications are being accepted by mail or email. There are NO in-person services at any agencies at this time, though some locations may have secure drop boxes in front of their offices.
Moratorium on Shut-offs: As announced by Governor Murphy at his briefing on October 15, no household may have its electricity, gas service, or water shut off for nonpayment through March 15, 2021. If there is any customer whose service has been shut off due to nonpayment during the pandemic, that service must be restored.
Home Energy Assistance Program (HEA)
The HEA Program is federally funded and was created to help low-income residents with their heating and medically necessary cooling bills. Assistance is available to eligible households through LIHEAP (see below for details) and includes benefits to assist with heating bills and certain emergency needs. Additional funds may be available for medically necessary cooling assistance and heating repairs.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
LIHEAP is a federally funded program designed to help low-income families and individuals meet home heating and medically necessary cooling costs. The application period is from October 1 through July 31. Assistance is provided on a first-come, first-served basis so applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as they are eligible. If you are eligible to receive assistance for cooling costs you should apply for this benefit at the same time that you apply for help with heating costs.
To be eligible for LIHEAP benefits, the applicant household must be responsible for home heating or cooling costs, with payments made either directly to the utility company or included in the rent; and have a gross income that falls at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. The table below gives specific gross income maximums for FFY 2021.
Those who live in public housing and/or receive rental assistance are not eligible unless they pay for their heating/cooling costs directly to the fuel supplier. The amount of the LIHEAP heating benefit is determined by income, household size, fuel type, and heating region. The medically necessary cooling assistance benefit is set at $200, which is applied as a direct credit to an active electric account or issued as a single party check to the client.
An eligible household that heats with natural gas or electricity may have its benefits directly forwarded to its utility company. Eligible households heating with oil, propane or kerosene receive a two-party check in the name of the client and the fuel supplier. Households whose heating costs are included in their non-subsidized rent receive a single party check made out to the eligible client. A household receiving medically necessary cooling benefits also receives a single party check.
Maximum MONTHLY GROSS Income Eligibility Guidelines
|Household Size||USF Program||LIHEAP Program|
|For each additional person||add $691||add $185|
Source: DCA 9/29/2020
How to apply for LIHEAP - You can now apply online or work with your local application agency in your area. If you have questions about the program during a time when the agency is not open, dial 2-1-1 for information and assistance. We are open twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. Residents age 60 or over, or those who are disabled, are permitted to receive and return applications by mail. Others may only apply by mail if permitted by their local application agency.
If you are a new applicant or if you have moved since last year you will need to bring a copy of the following documentation with you when you go to apply for this program at your local application agency.
- Proof of Identification (Social security cards for all household members and birth certificates for those under 12 months of age; custody papers for minors not living with parents; documentation for all foster children in the household)
- Proof of income for every household member who is 18 years of age or older
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Legal Residency Status (provide one of the following: social security card; copy of Medicaid/Medicare card; documentation from the U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigrations Services; or USCIS Temporary Work Permit)
- copy of your most recent utility bill
- copy of your tax bill, mortgage, or rental lease (if you are in public housing, bring your Housing Authority proof of residence letter or lease agreement)
Find out if you qualify for assistance for LIHEAP, USF, and other DCA programs by completing DCA’s anonymous online screening tool, DCAid.
Download the application.
For more information, call the toll-free LIHEAP hotline at 800-510-3102.
If you received LIHEAP/USF last year, you are eligible to apply for the program through a process called recertification. The application for those eligible for this process is automatically started within the system. Applicants using the recertification process will be contacted by mail and asked to supply less documentation. You will need to bring a copy of the following:
- documentation that will prove your household income
- your current utility bill
- documentation of any new household members
- documentation which verifies that a previous household member is no longer in your household
If you have moved since your last application was submitted, you will NOT be eligible for this streamlined process and will have to submit a new application.
NOTE: Remember, all applications for this program must be submitted to your local application agency. Once your application is submitted it will be processed. If there is a problem with the application, you will be notified by mail and you must contact the local application agency that originally submitted your application.
Universal Service Fund (USF)
The USF was created by the NJ Board of Public Utilities to help make natural gas and electric bills more affordable for low-income customers. Applications for this program are accepted throughout the year.
The LIHEAP application is also an application for the USF. You apply for two benefit programs at the same time. Households eligible for USF will receive a monthly credit benefit towards their gas and electric bills.
To be eligible, a household's gross income must be at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level and pay more than 3% of its annual income for electric, or more than 3% for natural gas. If a household has electric heat, it must spend more than 6% of its annual income on electricity to be eligible. Benefits vary between $5 to $150 per month. Payments are credited monthly to the utility accounts. No money is ever sent to clients. USF benefits are only available to customers of the seven regulated electric (energy) companies in New Jersey which are: New Jersey Natural Gas Company; Elizabethtown Gas Company; South Jersey Gas Company; Public Service Electric & Gas Company; Rockland Electric Company; Jersey Central Power & Light and Atlantic City Electric Company.
If you move, the USF benefits are stopped until you contact your new utility company and inform them that you were receiving USF at your former residence. It is the responsibility of the new utility company to associate your USF benefits to the new account. Once this has been done your USF benefit level will be reevaluated. The level of benefits you receive may change because it is in part based upon the history of utility use in your new location.
Because the same application is used for LIHEAP and USF, the process and documentation required are the same. Review the application process noted above. For more information about USF, contact your local application agency, call 866-240-1347 or go to the state website.
USF Fresh Start
If you have a balance of $60 or more on your energy bill as you enter the USF program, you may be eligible for additional benefits under the New Jersey Fresh Start Program. The Fresh Start Program is a component of the USF program and is only available during your first year of participation in USF. Fresh Start is a partnership between the customer and USF to forgive past due balances and improve your payment record. Participants must pay the current USF-supplemented bill on time and in full every month and after 12 months of full on-time payments, the pre-USF program overdue balance will be erased. If you are eligible for Fresh Start when you enroll in USF for the first time, you will be automatically enrolled by your energy company and will be sent additional information about how the Fresh Start program works. For more information, call 866-240-1347.
Other Utility Programs may Help
If you are not eligible for LIHEAP, there are other utility assistance programs you may qualify for. Details for each of these programs follow. We have included a table at the bottom of this page that reflects the current Federal Poverty Level set for various family sizes. It includes figures for the different income eligibility guidelines set for each program.
Payment Assistance for Gas & Electric (PAGE) Program
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities funds the PAGE program. The program is administered through the Affordable Housing Alliance. This annual program is intended to provide assistance to low-to-moderate income New Jersey residents who are struggling to pay their electric and natural gas bills.
- Be a homeowner or renter living in NJ
- Currently receive gas and electric services from one of the following providers: JCP&L, PSE&G, Rockland Electric, Atlantic City Electric, NJNG, Elizabeth Gas, South Jersey Gas, or a third party provider who bills through one of these companies
- Be facing a crisis situation that includes a documented notice that your gas/electric account is currently 45 days or more past due, and/or have received a discontinuation notice, and/or service has already been disconnected. Minimum $100 account balance.
- Demonstrate that 2 payments of at least $25 each have been made within the past 6 months onto the gas or electric account or one payment of $75 or greater within the past 90 days ($150 if combined gas and electric account).
- Provide copies of all required documentation along with the application
- Must not currently be applying for, receiving or have received any benefit through the LIHEAP program within the current heating season. If receiving a USF benefit, must wait until the (following) month after receiving the last USF benefit to be eligible for PAGE.
- Meet income eligibility requirements noted in the PAGE table below
- Any household with assets of $15,000 or more in savings, stocks/bonds etc. will be considered ineligible for the program.
You can use any one of the following methods to apply for this program:
- Submit an online application (you will need electronic versions of all required documentation)
- Dial 2-1-1 for assistance regardless of where you live or local agencies; all have partnered with AHA to assist you with the process
- Download an application in English or Spanish in the attached documents on the right side of this page and mail it to AHA (AHA, 59 Broad St., Eatontown, NJ 07724)
- Email scanned application and all documentation to AHA.
- Drop off the application with all documentation
Documents you will need are listed on this page.
To learn more call 732-982-8710 or visit the AHA PAGE website.
Income Eligibility Requirements for the PAGE Program
|Household Size||Minimum Annual Income||Maximum Annual Income|
**This table reflects Annual Gross Incomes.
Source: Affordable Housing Alliance
New Jersey Statewide Heating Assistance and Referral Energy Service, Inc. (NJSHARES) - is a non-profit organization which administers an energy-assistance program that assists households who do not qualify for federal or state energy programs and whose income does not exceed 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Each client fills out an electronic application with the assistance of a local community-based organization. Applications are taken by more than 230 participating intake agencies at local sites throughout the state. Eligibility is determined by income and household size. The maximum grant awarded by New Jersey SHARES is $700 for natural gas heating. Clients heating with electric may receive up to $700 on their electric heat account. Grants are distributed year-round based on funding availability.
Eligibility Guidelines for NJ SHARES
- Reside in New Jersey
- Be experiencing a financial crisis, such as a job loss or illness
- Be behind on their energy bill, or need a fuel delivery
- Have income over the limit for federal programs such as the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and state programs such as the Universal Service Fund (USF)
- Have an income level that does not exceed 400% of the Federal Poverty Level
- Have made a good-faith payment of $100 or more within 90 days of applying for NJ SHARES (for gas and electric customers; deliverable fuel customers are excluded from this rule)
Guidelines for Senior Citizens and People With a Disability:
Applicants 65 years of age or older or those receiving Social Security Disability (SSD), with households of one or two members, will be eligible for NJ SHARES if the maximum household income is $91,505 annually. Proof of age or Federal SSD benefit is required.
Required Documentation for NJ SHARES applications:
Documents should be furnished to the intake agency at the time of application.
- Proof of income for all contributing household members (last four consecutive weeks prior to application date)
- Proof of identification for all household members
- Most recent energy bill
- Signed and dated application
- Proof of Income
NJ SHARES Helps with Water Bills
New Jersey American Water (NJAW) - NJ SHARES administers the NJAW H2O Help to Others Program™. Customers who qualify may receive a grant of up to $500 and/or a discount of as much as 20% of a customer's bill. Their Low Income Payment Program (LIPP) is designed to assist New Jersey American Water’s most economically challenged customers. This aid can be equivalent to as much as 20% of a customer’s monthly bill, depending on eligibility. For both programs, an applicant's income must be no greater than 300% of the FPL, and must have made a good faith payment of $100 within 90 days of applying, and be at risk of shutoff. Applications are taken through the NJ SHARES agency network or online. For more Information, call 800-272-1325.
SUEZ Cares - NJ SHARES administers a water assistance program for Suez Water (formerly United Water) customers in need. There is no income guideline for the program. Customers must be experiencing a financial crisis, have to make a good faith payment of $20 within 90 days prior to applying to qualify for a maximum grant of $100. Applications are administered through the NJ SHARES agency network or online. Learn more and apply online here or call 866-657-4273.
The Lifeline Program is utility assistance program is designed to help eligible low-income individuals who are 65 or older or receiving Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income and has an annual income of less than $28,399 if single or less than $34,817 if married. This includes utility customers as well as tenants whose utility bills are included in their rent. Lifeline benefits are provided only for electric and natural gas consumers. For more information about Lifeline visit the NJ Department of Human Services' website or call 800-792-9745.
Winter Termination Program
The Winter Termination Program protects specific categories of customers from having their gas or electric shut off between November 15 and March 15 of each year. Those enrolled in certain other programs (including Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, USF, and Lifeline) are protected by the Winter Termination Program. An additional “catch-all” category is also included for those who are unable to pay their utility bills because of circumstances beyond their control, such as unemployment or illness. For more information about the Winter Termination Program, call 800-624-0241.
Comfort Partners is designed to improve energy affordability for households who earn less than 250% of the Federal Poverty Level. This program objective is accomplished through the direct installation of energy efficiency measures, personalized customer energy education, and counseling. Participants are asked to partner with the program to develop and carry out a household energy savings action plan. Program participants receive all efficiency measures and energy education services free of charge:
- Direct installation of cost-effective energy efficiency measures in the home (determined on a home-specific basis) which can include: efficient lighting products; hot water conservation measures (water heater insulation, water heater pipe insulation and energy-saving showerheads and aerators); replacement of inefficient refrigerators; thermostats; insulation upgrades (attic, wall, etc.); blower-door-guided air sealing; duct sealing and repair; heating/cooling equipment maintenance and other dwelling-specific measures
- Comprehensive, personalized energy education and counseling
For additional assistance, call toll-free at 800-915-8309 or fill out the online form.
The customer must also use the home as a primary residence and be the ratepayer of record with the electric or gas utility.
If your primary source of heat is oil, propane or kerosene, please contact the NJ Department of Community Affairs, Office of Weatherization at 800-510-3102 or call the County Weatherization office that serves your area.
Weatherization Assistance Program
The Weatherization Assistance Program provides free comprehensive energy conservation improvements to reduce residential heat loss and energy consumption. The LIHEAP application is also an application for the Weatherization Assistance Program and the Universal Service Fund (USF). You can apply for three energy benefit programs at the same time. Applicants for the Weatherization Assistance Program must have a gross annual income is at or below 200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines.
|Family Size||Gross Annual Income ($)|
|Each Additional Member||$8,960|
Source: https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/1869 (9/30/2020)
If you need to use public transportation to get to the local application agency, use NJ Transit's Trip Planner to find the best route. If you are disabled and cannot find accessible transportation or if you live in a part of the state that does not have adequate public transportation options, search the NJ 211 resource database for viable options.
2020/2021 Federal Poverty Level Table with Associated Percentages for Program Eligibility
**This table reflects Annual Gross Incomes.
Source: https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines 9/30/2020
Research Sources Include