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Utility Bill Help

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Utility Bill Help Program

Until now, the only way to access utility-run assistance programs was to be approved for LEAP. This left many income-qualified Coloradans without energy assistance. For the heating year of 2023-2024, the PUC’s Utility Bill Help program will directly refer qualified Coloradans denied for LEAP into utility-run energy affordability programs.

This is a pilot program for the 2023-2024 heating season which will be evaluated in June. 

To qualify, applicants must meet all three of the following requirements:

  • Current customer of Xcel Energy, Black Hills Energy, Atmos Energy, or Colorado Natural Gas.
  • Individual who currently receives assistance from one of the following benefit programs*: 
       Aid to the Needy Disabled (AND)
       Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
       Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
       Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
       Woman, Infants and Children (WIC)
       Subsidized Housing (Housing Choice Voucher, previously Section 8)
  • Individual who applied for LEAP benefits for the 2023-2024 heating season, but whose application has been denied.

    *Proof of enrollment in an official benefit program is required for income qualification.

How It Works
To apply, fill out the simple, secure, on-line application. (En Espanol) Your application will be processed and if you qualify, your information will be sent to your utility for enrollment into their program. Your utility will be in contact with you, but please be aware that it may take up to 60 days for your utility to process your enrollment. 

Questions?
For any questions about income qualifications or the Utility Bill Help Program, please email dora_utility_bill_help@state.co.us.

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Low-Income Energy Assistance Program

The Low-Income Energy Assistance (LEAP) Program is a federally-funded program that helps eligible Colorado families and individuals pay a portion of their winter home heating costs.  Application and approval for LEAP benefits provides the fastest access to additional programs for energy bill assistance. LEAP enrollment also prevents disconnection of service.

Funding is limited and early applications are encouraged to receive benefits. 

  • The eligibility requirements for LEAP can be found here. 
  • To apply for LEAP benefits, click here.

Other Energy Assistance Programs

Energy Outreach Colorado Programs

Energy Outreach Colorado’s Crisis Intervention Program (CIP) provides critical emergency heating system repairs or replacements for income-qualified Colorado households at no cost. Services include repair of failed furnaces or boilers and replacement of failed heating systems. CIP doesn’t cover routine maintenance and upkeep of a home’s heating system. To be qualified for this service you must be approved for LEAP.

Energy Outreach Colorado’s Affordable Residential Energy (CARE) program provides income-qualified Coloradans with free home energy efficiency upgrades for homeowners and renters. This program connects you with a local agency to conduct an energy audit on your home, which will then work with contractors to install qualifying upgrades. These upgrades may include the following: insulation, refrigerators, LEDs, shower heads, air sealing, and qualifying furnaces and water heaters.

Weatherization

The Colorado Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) helps qualified Coloradans save money, increase comfort, and better their homes and environment through proven, energy conservation solutions.

Eligibility Requirements
The home may not have had any weatherization services in the last 15 years.

For rental properties, landlords must agree to participate in the program.

To learn more about weatherization and income qualifications, visit the weatherization website. 

Specific Utility Resources

Xcel customers can visit the Energy Assistance page.
Black Hills customers can visit the Energy Assistance Program page.
Atmos Energy customers can visit the Bill Assistance Payment page.
Colorado Natural Gas customers can visit the Weatherization and Payment Assistance Programs page.

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Why does this program exist?

Bills during the winter of 2023 were particularly high due to a convergence of high natural gas prices, a deeply cold winter and the recovery of costs from events like 2021’s Winter Storm Uri. In response to high bills, Governor Polis directed the Public Utilities Commission to take further steps to address energy bill affordability. Additionally, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 23-291, which put in place new requirements on utilities designed to reduce customer bills. As a result, a series of efforts are underway now— ranging from new regulations to studies and outreach programs. This page focuses on utility bill assistance for low-income households.

What benefits do I receive from the Utility Bill Help program? 

The Utility Bill Help program enrolls you directly into energy affordability programs offered through certain utility companies. If you qualify for the program, you are enrolled with your utility provider to limit your total electric and natural gas bills to no more than 6% of your monthly income. This is a year-round benefit.

Can I apply to Utility Bill Help without applying for LEAP?

No. You must apply for LEAP benefits first. If you were denied LEAP benefits for this heating season, then you can apply for the Utility Bill Help program. 

What utility companies participate in this program?

Xcel Energy, Black Hills Energy, Atmos Energy, or Colorado Natural Gas

What if I receive gas/electric service from a co-op, municipal-owned utility, or other utility (e.g. United Power)?

LEAP is available for all Colorado residents, regardless of your utility. If you are not a customer of Xcel Energy, Black Hills Energy, Atmos Energy or Colorado Natural Gas, please contact your provider directly to determine if additional energy assistance is available through your provider.

What agency is running the Utility Bill Help program?

Applications are received through the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), but all benefits are provided through energy affordability programs run by Xcel Energy, Black Hills Energy, Atmos Energy, and Colorado Natural Gas.

How long does it take to be enrolled in an affordability program once I apply?

The PUC team will process your application and send it on to your utility for enrollment into their affordability program. Your utility will be in contact with you, but please be aware that it may take up to 60 days for your utility to process your enrollment.

What if I need immediate help with my heating bill or heating source?

If you are in a heating crisis or need immediate help, call 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) for resources. A heating crisis may include receiving a notice of disconnection of utility service or the failure of your heating equipment. 

Other names for the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP)

Xcel Energy’s program is called Gas Affordability Program (GAP) and Electric Affordability Program (EAP). 
Black Hills Energy’s program is called Black Hills Energy Affordability Program (BHEAP).
Atmos Energy's program is called PIPP.
Colorado Natural Gas's program is called Customer Affordability Program (CAP).

My LEAP application was denied. Can I get other assistance?

If your LEAP application was denied, you can still apply for the Utility Bill Help program. 

Other resources also include:
Energy Outreach Colorado (EOC). EOC also has resources to assist with energy bills and energy efficiency. 
The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) has a Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).