Like many people, I have a “budgeted amount” based on usage that is automatically deducted each month by Dominion Energy. But because I have trust issues, I still open the bill each month to make sure the budgeted amount matches the bill. In January, I noticed a second pay envelope was included in the advertising inserts I normally throw out. For some reason, I stopped to read it before reaching for the wastebasket.

The bright blue envelope was emblazoned with the words “EnergyShare.” The address was the Salvation Army. I’m not sure why I never noticed or heard of this program before. Maybe they got a new logo? But I realized I loved its simplicity. For 17 years, EnergyShare has provided heating assistance to more than 80,000 Ohio residents. During the 2018-19 heating season, according to Neil J. Durbin, media spokesman for Dominion Energy, “more than 3,900 people in 1,650 households received more than $395,000 in EnergyShare assistance.”

In December 2019, the first full month of EnergyShare for the 2019-2020 Heating Season, Dominion distributed $9,670 in EnergyShare last-resort assistance to 113 people in 45 households.

Here’s how it works: EnergyShare is a joint project with Dominion and the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army offices accept applications and distribute the funds. Every dollar, according to Durbin, goes to pay recipients’ Dominion Energy Ohio heating bills. The program generally runs from early December until the funds are exhausted, which historically happens in May. Dominion covers the administrative costs, allowing all donations to go toward paying heating bills.

The part that really attracted me — other than the fact it was a great, practical way to help others — was the way the money is contributed. All you do is add $1, $2, $6, $12, $18 or $36 to the amount on your bill. Overpayment in these exact amounts is automatically recognized as a contribution and will be documented on your next bill.

The other option was the colorful envelope that attracted my attention in my bill. Those separate payments, with the check made out to EnergyShare, are mailed to EnergyShare, The Salvation Army, PO Box 5847, Cleveland, OH 44101.

I know this program has probably been advertised before, but somehow I missed it. And it seems like such a simple way to help others and, selfishly perhaps, feel good. But hey! Better late than never!

If you are wondering if you are eligible, here are the rules:

To qualify for a one-time EnergyShare assistance payment, a person must live in the Dominion Energy service area, be a Dominion Energy customer, and must have:

• A demonstrated need for assistance;

• Exhausted all other state and federal energy assistance;

• Received a shutoff notice or the service has already been disconnected; and

• Documented household income at or below 175 percent of federal poverty guidelines. To qualify, a customer’s yearly gross household income can be up to $21,857.50 for one person; $29,592.50 for two; $37,327.50 for three; $45,062.50 for four; $52,797.50 for five; $60,532.50 for six; $68,267.50 for seven; and $76,002.50 for eight. Add $7,735 for each additional person.

For more information, go to dominionenergy.com/community/energy-assistance/energyshare-oh.

There’s your potential feel-good moment for the day.

Contact this reporter at editor@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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