Utilities programs: Board of Public Utilities | CustomerAssistance

Board of Public Utilities | CustomerAssistance

Home > Customer Assistance > Assistance Programs > Utility Assistance Programs

If you are in danger of utility shut off or if you are currently disconnected, apply for one of the free utility grant programs below and inform your utility company immediately.


Don’t delay, apply for energy assistance today!


If you are having trouble affording your utility bills, there is good news! Due to the economic situation caused by the pandemic, New Jersey temporarily expanded its low-income energy assistance programs and its energy debt forgiveness program to middle class households (see new income limits below).




Program Income Limits

Household Size














































*If you are income eligible for USF, apply for USF first and then if still in need seek additional assistance from the PAGE program.

 **Lifeline determines income in terms of married or single only and is for seniors and the disabled.

DCAid Screening Tool

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has a variety of programs that can help you with utility bills, rent and removal of lead hazards from your home.

Use the anonymous “DCAid” screening tool to determine if you are eligible for assistance, and for more information on how to apply. 


New Jersey’s Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) is a temporary grant that provides forgiveness of overdue water and sewer balances. Learn more at www.nj.gov/dca/dcaid. Call 800-510-3102 if you have any questions or experience difficulty applying.


Universal Service Fund



The Universal Service Fund (USF) provides monthly credits on electric and gas bills to help make bills more affordable. The income limits for USF have been temporarily raised due to the pandemic, so if you were denied in the past, reapply today!


USF-Fresh Start: Starting October 1, 2021 and continuing through September 30, 2023, any USF enrollee with overdue balances of $60 or more will be automatically enrolled by their utility company into the Fresh Start program. Fresh Start provides forgiveness on the overdue balance amount that existed at the time of USF enrollment.


How do I receive Fresh Start forgiveness for my overdue balance? Each month a USF-Fresh Start customer pays only their current monthly charges in full, 1/12 of their Fresh Start overdue balance will be forgiven by the utility company. (Some utility companies forgive ¼ of the customer’s overdue balance once every three months). At the end of 12 months, the entire overdue balance is forgiven. The utility company will send information to Fresh Start customers when they are enrolled explaining how the program works and updates regarding their status in the program. The customer should call their utility company with any Fresh Start questions but can reach out to the Board of Public Utilities at 800-624-0241 or www.nj.gov/bpu/assistance/complaints if they have any complaints their utility company cannot resolve.


How do I apply for USF and USF-Fresh Start?

You can apply for USF in any of the following ways:*

  • Click here to print the application. Complete, sign, and mail or email to your local application agency with all required documents (see application for list of required documents).
  • Apply online at www.nj.gov/dca/dcaid and upload all required documents (online application available 10/1-6/30)
  • For further information go to: www.energyassistance.nj.gov.
  • Call the USF hotline at 800-510-3102 to:
    • Have an application mailed to you
    • Find your local application agency
    • Follow up on the status of your application
    • If you are disabled/homebound, request a home visit for assistance in completing your application 


*USF shares its application with the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). You can apply for both programs at the same time during the HEAP season (10/1-6/30), or apply for USF only during the summer months.


Note: You cannot apply for Fresh Start, but if you are eligible you will be enrolled by your utility company and receive information about Fresh Start in the mail.


USF is administered by the Department of Community Affairs. Fresh Start is administered by the utility companies with oversight by the Board of Public Utilities.


Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) helps New Jersey households pay for heating costs and certain medically-necessary cooling expenses. Renters who have their heating costs included in their rent may also qualify. Applications for HEAP are accepted from October 1st through June 30th. The HEAP program shares its application with the USF program. For application options please see above “How do I apply for USF and USF-Fresh Start?”


HEAP is administered by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.


PAGE Program

The Payment Assistance for Gas and Electric (PAGE) Program provides relief on gas and electric bills for low- to moderate-income New Jersey households (see income limits above). Eligible applicants must have an overdue balance of at least $100 and not have $15,000 or more in liquid assets. Those who are income eligible for USF should apply for USF first before seeking supplemental assistance from PAGE. To self-screen for program eligibility, apply online, or print an application, please visit www.njpoweron.org. If you have questions, or would like an application mailed to you, call (732) 982-8710.


PAGE is administered by the Affordable Housing Alliance.



Winter Termination Program

The Winter Termination Program protects specific categories of customers from having their water, wastewater, gas or electric shut off between November 15 and March 15 of each year. Those enrolled in certain programs (including Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, USF, HEAP and Lifeline) are protected by the Winter Termination Program, but customers must call their utility company and request WTP protection. An additional “catch-all” category is also included for those who are unable to pay their utility bills because of circumstances beyond their control, such as unemployment or illness. For more information about the Winter Termination Program, call 1-800-624-0241. The Winter Termination Program is administered by NJBPU.


Utility Customer Bill of Rights

Be a smart consumer, know your rights. Read the Utility Customer Bill of Rights.


Lifeline Program (Energy Assistance)




Lifeline provides an annual energy benefit to qualified seniors and the disabled. The benefit can help eligible homeowners and renters with electric and/or natural gas costs. You can apply for Lifeline by using the NJSAVE application, available at www.aging.nj.gov. For more information about Lifeline, call 1-800-792-9745, or click here. 


Lifeline is administered by the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS).



NJ SHARES is a non-profit organization that provides assistance to income-eligible New Jersey households for paying their energy, telephone, broadband (internet), water, tax, rent and mortgage bills. Applications for NJ SHARES grants can be made at any of the more than 270 participating social service agencies throughout the state or online. For more information, call 1-866-657-4273 or visit www.njshares.org.




Affordable Connectivity Program (“ACP”)

Overseen by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Affordable Connectivity Program is a program administered by the Universal Service Administrative Co. that helps connect families and households struggling to afford internet service by supplying them with a credit towards their internet service. To print or submit an application online, please visit https://affordableconnectivity.gov/ or Eligibility Widget or call 877-384-2575 for more information on how to apply and eligibility requirements.

Lifeline (Federal Telephone Assistance Program)



The federal Lifeline telephone assistance program offers a monthly benefit of up to $9.25 towards phone or internet services for eligible subscribers (up to $34.25 for those living on Tribal lands). Eligibility is determined based on your income (135% or less than the federal poverty guidelines) or participation in other assistance programs. In general, if you participate in any of the following programs you also may qualify for telephone assistance: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit, Tribal programs and Medicaid.


Telephone assistance is available to you if you are a qualified residential telephone customer. When you are seeking telephone assistance, please keep in mind that each telephone company and/or each program has different eligibility requirements, different benefits available and different restrictions. Some programs have restrictions on the optional services available to participants.


The following list of telephone service providers participate in Lifeline Assistance in New Jersey:

  • Verizon New Jersey – If you are a Verizon New Jersey customer, please call NJSHARES at 1-888-337-3339, or visit https://njshares.org/telecommunications/
  • CenturyLink/United Telephone Company of New Jersey – 1-800-201-4099 – centurylink.com/Pages/Support/LifeLine
  • Tracfone – 1-800-977-3768 – safelink.com
  • Virgin Mobile – 1-888-898-4888, or visit assurancewireless.com
  • Truconnect 1-800-430-0443, or visit truconnect.com
  • Xchange -1-877-853-3443 xchangetele. com
  • Q-Link Wireless -1-855-754-6543, or visit  qlinkwireless.com
  • Starlink, visit Starlink (Approved but not currently offering services).


Please contact your local telephone company to participate in any of these programs. Also to find out more information, you may also call the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC), which administer Lifeline for the Federal Communications Commission by calling 888-641-8722of by visiting their website www.lifelinesupport.org.


NJ Energy Assistance Brochure and USF/LIHEAP Application

NJ Energy Assistance Brochure

NJ Energy Assistance Brochure (Spanish)

Universal Service Fund (USF)/ Home Energy Assistance Application



Comfort Partners


Comfort Partners is an energy saving and education program that directly installs energy savings measures FREE of charge for qualified income eligible customers.


Call 1-800-915-8309 or visit www.njcleanenergy.com/CP (electric or gas heat only) to learn more.


Comfort Partners is sponsored by NJBPU’s New Jersey Clean Energy Program™.


Federal Clean Energy Incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)

In 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the most significant legislation in U.S. history to tackle the climate crisis. The IRA features over two dozen provisions in rebates, loans, and tax incentives that help save New Jersey families money while moving our state closer toward a clean energy future. Find more information from here: Clean Energy for All – The White House.


To maximize the savings afforded by the IRA, you can stack federal programs with state programs, like New Jersey’s Charge-Up Program. The list of state programs for homeowners and businesses is available at www. njcleanenergy.com, where you can also find a directory to your electric and gas utility website to explore more cost-saving opportunities.


Visit www.cleanenergy.gov to learn more about the new federal incentive programs. We encourage you to take advantage of state and federal cost savings while they’re available.

Utility assistance programs

Assistance programs

There are many assistance programs that are available to residential customers when it comes to their electric, natural gas, telephone or water bills. Below are just a few of the options that customers can utilize for any assistance needs. 

If you have specific questions about any of the assistance programs, please contact your utility company or call the PUCO Call Center at (800) 686-7826. You can also submit your questions online here.

30-Day Medical Certificate

Residential customers of PUCO-regulated electric, natural gas, and water utilities who are facing a disconnection for nonpayment may use this form to avoid a utility disconnect for up to 30 days.  

The form may be used no more than 3 times in a rolling 12-month period.

The form must be completed by a licensed physician, physician assistant, clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, or local board of health physician and sent to your utility company. 

Electric Partnership Program (EPP)

The Electric Partnership Program (EPP) is a home weatherization plan for customer who are at or below the 175 percent of the federal poverty levels. To be eligible for the program, Ohioans must also have 12 months of electric usage at their current address, have an annual electric baseload usage of at least 5,000 kWh, and live in the service territory of American Electric Power, Duke Energy, Dayton Power and Light, or FirstEnergy. Customers who are enrolled in electric PIPP Plus or who are eligible for PIPP and have high energy use will be contacted by an authorized EPP provider.

Extended Payment Plans

PUCO-regulated natural gas and electric companies have the following extended payment plans available to help you to make affordable payments and maintain service:

  • The 1/3rd plan, or Winter Heating Season Plan, is only offered from November 1 to April 15 and requires you to pay 1/3rd of your total account balance each month.
  • The 1/6th plan requires you to pay 6 equal monthly payments on your past due amount in addition to your current monthly bill.
  • The 1/9th plan requires you to pay 9 equal monthly payments on your past due amount in addition to a budget payment plan.

These plans are available to all residential customers regardless of income. 


A guarantor is a person who has established utility service that guarantees payments from a customer that needs to establish credit with a utility company for either new service or to reestablish service. According to the Ohio Revised Code 4901:1-17-03, the following criteria must be met in order to be a guarantor:

  •  The guarantor shall be a customer of the utility company.
  •  The guarantor demonstrates that he/she is a satisfactory credit risk by means that may be quickly and inexpensively checked by the utility company. 

Upon default by a customer who has furnished a guarantor, the utility company may pursue collection actions against the defaulting customer and the guarantor in the appropriate court, or the utility company may transfer the defaulting customer’s bill to the guarantor’s account. The defaulted amount transferred to the guarantor’s account shall not be greater than the amount billed to the defaulting customer for 60 days of service or two monthly bills. After 30 days from the transfer, the utility company may make the guarantor subject to disconnection procedures, if the amount transferred still remains unpaid.

Heatshare Programs

The HeatShare programs are administered by the Salvation Army to help qualifying households pay for natural gas bills. These programs typically run from January until May, or until funds are depleted. These programs are different depending on the utility company and are only offered for electric and natural gas utilities. Names of the Heatshare programs are: 

  • AEP Neighbor to Neighbor Program

  • AES Ohio Gift of Power Program 

  • Columbia Gas of Ohio HeatShare Program

  • Dominion Energy Ohio EnergyShare Program

  • Duke Energy Ohio HeatShare Fuel Fund

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) is a federally funded program administered by the Ohio Department of Development. It is designed to help eligible, low-income Ohioans meet the high costs of home heating. HEAP pays a one-time payment for most PUCO-regulated utility customers reflecting their usage for the current winter heating season.

Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP)

Ohio’s Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP) is a federally funded low-income residential energy efficiency program. The program reduces low-income households’ energy use, thus creating more affordable housing for those in most need. Services include attic, wall and basement insulation; blower-door-guided air leakage reduction; heating system repairs or replacements; and health and safety testing and inspections. All measures are provided based on an on-site energy audit and on cost-effective guidelines developed using the NEAT computerized energy audit. Individualized client education is an important component of the program. Ohioans with a household income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for the program.

Ohio Household Water Assistance Program

The Ohio Household Water Assistance Program provides income-eligible Ohioans assistance with their water and sewer utility bills. Funding for the program is provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act and American Rescue Plan Act. The Ohio Household Water Assistance Program pays a one-time payment for most PUCO-regulated utility customers through Sept. 30, 2023.

Patriot Plan

The Patriot Plan, a program providing protections and benefits to military personnel and their families, can assist qualifying customers with maintaining utility service while serving on active duty. Under the plan, Ohio’s natural gas and electric utilities cannot disconnect the residential utility service of any military reservist or National Guardsman deployed on active duty for nonpayment.

Upon return from active duty, utility companies must offer customers a period of time equal to the length of their deployment to pay any arrearages that may have accumulated. Additional time may be requested by a customer if the amount in arrearages presents a hardship. Utility companies are also prohibited from charging any late payment fees or interest to qualifying customers during the period of deployment or the repayment period.

The Patriot Plan does not apply to career active-duty military personnel serving their regular tour of duty

Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP Plus)

The Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP Plus), helps make monthly payments more affordable on a year-round basis. And, when a PIPP Plus household pays the monthly PIPP Plus payment on-time and in-full, some of their old debt and the rest of that month’s bill goes away in the form of a credit on their utility account.

Special Reconnect Order

The Special Reconnect Order has been issued by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) on an annual basis  typically mid October through April 15. The order allows residential customers who are disconnected or are threatened with disconnection to pay a maximum amount of $175 to have their service restored or maintained. Any residential customer who is served by a regulated utility company, regardless of income, may use the Special Reconnect Order, to establish, maintain or restore service. The Special Reconnect Order may be used once per winter heating season.

Customers that have multiple residential accounts may only utilize the special reconnection order at their primary residence. All regulated natural gas and electric companies must comply with the Special Reconnect Order. To see the full list of regulated utility companies in Ohio, click here.

Stay connected with Lifeline

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) urges qualifying low-income residents to apply for Lifeline Telephone Assistance. Lifeline assistance makes basic local telephone service more affordable for income-eligible families across Ohio. Those who qualify could receive discounts for monthly telephone bills and/or installation costs of telephone service. Wireless and broadband providers also offer Lifeline.

Summer Crisis Program

The Home Energy Assistance Summer Crisis Program provides a one-time benefit to eligible Ohioans with cooling assistance during the summer months. The program runs from July 1 to September 30 annually (program dates may vary).

The focus of the Summer Crisis Program is to provide assistance with electric utility bills, air conditioning unit and/or fan purchases and central air conditioning repairs. Households with a household member who is either 60 years of age and older, or has a certified medical condition, and households who have a disconnect notice, have been shut off, or are trying to establish new electric service may be eligible for assistance*.

Ohioans with a household income at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines and have a member of the household who is at least 60 years old, or can provide physician documentation that cooling assistance is needed for a household member’s health, or households who have a disconnect notice, have been shut off, or are trying to establish new electric service may be eligible for assistance*.

*Program eligibility may very each year.

Winter Crisis Program

The Winter Crisis Program is a special component of the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and is administered by community action agencies throughout Ohio. Heating assistance for income eligible Ohioans available November 1 through May 1. Ohioans with a household income at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines that are facing disconnection, have been disconnected or have less than a 25 percent supply of bulk fuel in their tank are eligible for the program.

What is a utility. Let’s explain in simple terms – Company Secret

Utilities either give access to hidden settings and system parameters, or make the process of changing individual settings easier – they automate it. These programs may be included with the operating system or distributed separately. Sometimes a set of several software products is combined into a utility package.

Utilities include:

  • Backup software.
  • File managers are programs that allow the user to quickly find and manage files, such as Total Commander.
  • Archivers that allow you to compress data and save hard disk space – for example, WinRAR, which allows you to work with archives of various formats.
  • Anti-virus programs with little functionality that can be used to remove malware, such as Dr.Web CureIt! or Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool.
  • Transcoders that, for example, switch the keyboard layout when the user starts typing in another language. The most famous such program is Punto Switcher.
  • Programs for diagnosing and monitoring the state of a computer and its components. For example, CCleaner, which cleans the computer’s hard disk, which in theory should lead to an increase in its performance, or the Defraggler program, which defragments the disk.
  • Programs for accelerating and customizing the operation of the operating system, such as System Mechanic.
  • Software to protect information from unauthorized access, copying, damage or theft.
  • Uninstallers of installed programs and other products.

Usage example on Secret This is a system utility

that filters traffic. The firewall protects the computer from external attacks, and also blocks the spread of malware if it does get on the computer.”

(From an article about obvious and not-so-obvious ways to protect smartphones and laptops from hacking.)

Mistakes in use

Utilities should not be confused with drivers, codecs and regular user programs. A driver is a computer program that is required to connect hardware, such as a video card, sound card, or printer. The operating system accesses the hardware through the driver – this program allows you to determine the type of device and work with it correctly.

Codec is a small program for encoding and decoding multimedia data (audio, video, digital images). Each codec handles one type of data. For example, audio codecs MP3, WMA, FLAC, among others, are responsible for recording and playing sound, and video codecs DivX, MPEG, AVI, H.261, H.263, H.264 and others work with video. If the clip contains both audio and video, both types of codecs are connected.

Utilities differ from ordinary programs in their purpose (mainly diagnostics and debugging of the operating system) and modest functionality. But if you wish, any small and highly specialized program can be attributed to utilities, for example, a weather and traffic widget, a simple audio or video player, a text editor like Notepad or TextEdit.


The popularity of such programs peaked in the 2000s, when users tried to improve their computer performance with their help. For example, gamers installed the Alcohol 120% or Daemon Tools utility packages to create bootable DVD images. In those days, many games did not go without a disc in the drive, and the disc itself was provided with copy protection. These programs helped bypass the restrictions.

Using the defragmenter utility, you could try to overclock the hard disk (HDD).

Download Master or any other manager for downloading files from the Internet was needed when the connection speed was slow and the movie took hours to download. The utility allowed, in the event of a connection break, to resume the remaining parts of the file, and not start downloading again.

Checked the article:

Utilities | it’s… What is Utilities?



Utility (eng. utility or tool ) is a software product designed not to solve any application problem, but to solve auxiliary problems.

Computer utilities can be divided into three groups: Computer maintenance utilities , functionality expansion utilities and information utilities .


  • 1 Service Utilities (USO)
    • 1.1 Main types of USO
      • 1.1.1 Defragmenters
      • 1.1.2 Partition Structure Error and Corruption Control Utilities and SMART Auditors
      • 1.1.3 System Integrity Monitoring Utilities
  • 2 Extension utilities
    • 2.1 Main types of extension utilities
      • 2.1.1 Converter utilities
      • 2.1.2 Utilities – Meta Information Editors
      • 2.1.3 Backup Utilities
      • 2.1.4 System management utilities
      • 2.1.5 Fine tuning utilities
  • 3 Information utilities

Service Utilities (USO)

USO includes all types of service programs, such as utilities for: defragmenting, checking and fixing the structure of hard disk partitions, fixing system dependencies, fine-tuning the system, etc.

Since the typical set of required ODRs is approximately the same for all PC users, pre-built utility packages are widely used, the most striking example of which is the Norton Utilities package (included in Norton System Works) from the company

Main types of USO


Check the degree of fragmentation of files and free space on partitions of logical drives available to the system, eliminate (reduce) it – defragment , and can also move files to arrange in an order that provides optimal access time (minimum for frequently used files at the expense of more for rarely used ones).