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DTE Energy Offers Payment Assistance Programs

PRNewswire-FirstCall
DETROIT
(:DTE)

DETROIT, Jan. 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- With another cold Michigan winter under way, residents can find help managing their energy bills and avoid service shut-offs through payment assistance programs available from DTE Energy utilities MichCon and Detroit Edison.

"If you think you may have a problem paying your utility bills this winter, it's best to contact us as soon as possible," said Joyce Hayes-Giles, senior vice president -- customer service for DTE Energy. "There are a number of programs and agencies available to assist customers, and we are always willing to work with customers who are having trouble making payments."

DTE Energy's BudgetWise Billing program can help customers better manage their heating costs by averaging monthly energy payments throughout the year. By knowing what to expect to pay each month for gas and electricity, customers don't have to worry about the seasonal ups and downs of energy costs.

DTE Energy also has a team of specialists who can assist low-income customers by providing individual payment plans, agency referrals and follow up. Customers who anticipate having trouble paying their energy bills this winter are encouraged to contact DTE Energy at (800) 545-8046.

The following programs are available to qualified low-income and senior customers:

Winter Protection Plan

The Winter Protection Plan protects qualified seniors and low-income customers from service shut-off due to non-payment between Nov. 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008. While enrolled in this program, customers must pay a portion of their estimated annual bill, plus regular payments on any past due bills. Customers wishing to enroll in this program must meet eligibility requirements. For more information customers can call (800) 477-4747.

Shut-Off Protection Plan

The Shut-Off Protection Plan provides year-round protection from shut-off and is available to all residential customers regardless of income. Enrollment requires an initial down payment of 10 percent of a customer's total bill. A monthly budget plan then spreads the customer's future bills and remaining balance into 12 equal monthly payments. More information is available by calling (800) 477-4747.

Double Notice Protection

An additional safeguard provided by MichCon and Detroit Edison is the Double Notice Protection plan. Customers may identify a friend or relative to receive a copy of any overdue or shut-off notice. The backup helps protect against service shut-off in the event that a customer is ill, out-of-town, or otherwise unable to receive utility shut-off notices.

Medical Emergencies

If a medical emergency exists, the utilities will not shut off service for up to 21 days if customers obtain verification from their doctor or a public health agency.

Active Military Duty

Customers called to full-time active military service during a time of declared national or state emergency or war, may apply for shut-off protection for up to 90 days and may request extensions of this protection by re- applying. More information is available by calling (800) 477-4747.

Home Heating Credit E-filing

Eligible customers may receive funds from the state of Michigan to apply toward their heating bill. To qualify, a customer must meet the Home Heating Credit income guidelines. DTE Energy will help customers file for the credit between Jan. 15 and Sept. 26, 2008. For assistance, call (800) 411-4348.

State Emergency Relief Program and Energy Direct

Eligible low-income households may receive help paying energy bills year- round through the Department of Human Services (DHS). Customers currently receiving assistance from DHS -- and whose energy service is subject to shut- off -- may automatically qualify for the Energy Direct program. This program protects against service shut-off and places the account on a budget plan. DHS will make a payment directly to DTE Energy. For more information, customers should call their local DHS office or the Energy Assistance Hotline at (800) 292-5650.

Low-Income Weatherization

Assistance with home weatherization may be available to those who meet eligibility guidelines through the Community Action Agency. To apply, customers need to contact their local Community Action Agency or the United Way (2-1-1).

Earned Income Credit

This credit is available based on the income level and number of qualifying child dependents. To be eligible for this credit, customers must file a federal income tax return with Schedule EIC, and apply for the credit through the Internal Revenue Service.

The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW)

When qualified low-income customers have exhausted other public and private community resources, The Heat and Warmth Fund, a nonprofit organization offering energy payment assistance, may provide last-resort energy assistance. For assistance, contact one of the following program administrators:

  -- United Way -- 24-hour service from home phones -- 2-1-1
  -- United Way -- for cell phone users (800) 552-1183
  -- Muskegon County Red Cross -- (231) 726-3555
  -- The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) -- (800) 866-THAW (8429)

For more information on these programs as well as home energy-saving tips, visit dteenergy.com.

SOURCE: DTE Energy

CONTACT: Len Singer, +1-313-235-8809, or Lorie Kessler, +1-313-235-8807,
both of DTE Energy

Web site: http://www.dteenergy.com/