Coronavirus.

Pay cuts.

Sickness.

Downsizing.

Unexpected expenses.

Inflation.

Uncertainty.

Loss.

I don’t know exactly what your story is, but chances are, you have been – and maybe currently are – impacted by one or more of the above scenarios.

The last few years have been hard. And the hits seem to keep on coming.

As the colder months approach, we know paying monthly bills can be a hardship. And we do not want anyone to have to choose between putting dinner on the table or paying their energy bill.  

Asking for help can be a hard thing to do, especially if recent global events have forced you to do it for the first time. But no one should feel bad about asking for help. We also know it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Review the following information to find the best assistance option for your situation.

Emergency Assistance Funding for Food Banks and United Ways for ALICE Population

To be eligible for many programs you must meet federal poverty guidelines. But we know there are many neighbors who don’t meet those guidelines and still struggle to make ends meet. Residents within the Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed (ALICE) population do not qualify for federal assistance but are often only one major expense – a car repair, broken water heater or unplanned medical bill – away from financial disaster.

With this often-over-looked population in mind, The Consumers Energy Foundation is giving $500,000 in grants for emergency assistance funding for Food Banks Council of Michigan (FBCM) and the Michigan Association of United Ways (MAUM) to provide direct assistance and necessities to our neighbors across the state. The grant funding is part of the Consumers Energy Foundation’s commitment to investing in Michigan’s people and addressing critical and emergent needs in a meaningful way.

Specifically, the funding will provide:

  • $250,000 for FBCM to distribute to food banks for the purchase of food, which has become increasingly difficult due to increasing food prices and supply chain shortages; every $1 will support six meals, resulting in 1.5 million meals.
  • $250,000 for MAUW to distribute to local United Ways to provide direct assistance with basic needs, including housing repairs, gas and transportation assistance, rental assistance and other necessities.


If you are interested in finding information about your local food bank or United Way, contact 2-1-1.

Assistance Programs

If you have recently found yourself in a position where paying your utility bill has become a hardship, or know someone who could use a little support, review the information below and take advantage of the assistance available, both through Consumers Energy and other organizations – to make sure your needs are met this winter.

Many of the programs are income dependent. See the table below for what programs are available at various income levels.

Consumers Energy Programs

CARE Program
The Consumers Affordable Resource for Energy (CARE) Program is an affordable payment plan that offers monthly payments at a fixed, affordable rate. Plus, if you make payments on time, your past due balance will be gradually forgiven. Learn more.

Helping Neighbors Program
The Helping Neighbors Program will provide a free expert energy assessment of your home. You may also be eligible for free energy upgrades like insulating pipes, installing free LED bulbs, showerheads and kitchen and bathroom faucet aerators. Learn more.

Shut-Off Protection Plan
The Shut-Off Protection Plan is available year-around. To be eligible you must meet income guidelines and be able to pay 10% of your total account balance to be enrolled. Call us at 800-477-5050 to register.

Winter Protection Plan
Winter Protection plan is available to senior citizens (65 years or older) Nov. 1 – March 31. To be eligible you must meet income guidelines and pay a down payment. Call us at 800-477-5050 to register.

Public Assistance Programs

2-1-1
In addition to connecting people with food banks and United Way, 2-1-1 offers a one-stop connection to thousands of local agencies and resources that can help with overdue bills, rent assistance, shelter for the night and more. If calling isn’t your thing, you can also visit their website and search their database of programs and services. 

State Emergency Relief (SER)
Available year-round, to assist income qualified households with a heat or electric past due notice, shut-off notice, or need for deliverable fuel. Apply online here.

Home Heating Credit (HHC)
If your income is at or below 110% of the federal poverty level, you may apply for a Home Heating Credit from the State of Michigan to help pay winter heating bills (includes rented apartments and mobile homes). Learn more.

Other Programs
If you are a veteran or senior citizen, there may be other programs available to you. Visit our website and answer a couple questions to find out what is available based on your situation. https://www.consumersenergy.com/residential/programs-and-services/payment-assistance

We know the winter season can be tough, but we are here to help. You can always call us at 800-477-5050 to discuss your situation and find the right solution for you.

Other Helpful Blogs: