More New Yorkers to get help paying heating bills this winter

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – After two brutal winters of historic proportions, Upstate New Yorkers are supposed to be getting a break this season, but many folks out are still going to have trouble paying their heating bills. For the 2015-2016 heating season, even middle income families can qualify for help.

New guidelines released by federal and state officials will allow many middle class families and individuals to receive some form of assistance paying their heating bills, this winter, whether they heat with gas, oil, electricity, or even wood.

Under the government’s biggest program–the Home Energy Assistance Program, known as HEAP–a single customer making as much as about $27,000 is eligible for a grant.

A family of 4 can earn up to $52,000 and receive assistance, and a family of 6 can bring in more than $68,000 and get help with their bills.

Spokesperson Karen Merkel said National Fuel is getting the word out, “We have the largest percentage of customers across New York state that have received HEAP grants, and I think it is because we are very proactive.”

Merkel added, National Fuel has a number of programs to help customers with their bills this winter, including a debt forgiveness plan for certain low income customers, but Merkel said the gas company does not set the guidelines.

“But the guidelines are set with the purpose of those who have the highest energy costs, receive the highest benefit. That is done through the federal government.”

Customers can receive as much $400 in HEAP grants for the heating season, and $350 for emergency assistance paying their bills.

You find out what programs are available through the New York Office for Temporary and Disability Assistance here, or call the OTDA Hotline at 1-800-342-3009. National Fuel customers can call 686-6123. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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