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Library: Policy

340:20-1-17. Energy Crisis Assistance Program (ECAP)

Revised 9-16-19

(a) ECAP funds.Based upon previous years' program experience, reasonable funds are reserved each year for ECAP to resolve energy crisis situations to prevent disconnect of service when the household has a verified, active cut-off order scheduled within 72 hours, restore or start service, or provide a minimum delivery of propane or other heating fuel, per Section 8623(c) of Title 42 of the United States Code (42 U.S.C. § 8623(c)).ECAP consists of two components:

(1) scheduled intermittent application periods each year; and

(2) year round assistance available on a case-by-case basis for households experiencing an energy crisis that involves a life-threatening medical situation.

(b) Maximum benefit amount.When the household applies for ECAP more than once in the same fiscal year, the maximum benefit amount approved for all applications combined cannot exceed the amount shown per fiscal year for ECAP on Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) Appendix C-7-A, Estimated Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Benefit Level For All Households.

(c) ECAP application methods.Households apply for ECAP by submitting an online application at www.okdhslive.org phoning 405-487-5483 to apply, or requesting Form 08LH002E, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Application, be mailed, to be completed and returned.

(1) When there is a life-threatening medical situation, LIHEAP staff gathers eligibility information by phone and an application is not required.

(2) When Form 08LH002E is mailed to the household with a postage paid envelope, the application must be completed and returned by email, faxed to the number on the form, or mailed to the return address in the postage paid envelope.

(3) ECAP applications are approved or denied by centralized LIHEAP staff.

(d) Primary energy source. Households may choose heating or cooling as the primary energy source for ECAP when the household's main energy source meets criteria per (e)(2) of this Section.When a life-threatening medical situation is involved, the household must choose the energy source that resolves the energy crisis and prevents a life-threatening medical situation.When the household chooses:

(1) heating, the heating energy source may be electric, natural gas, propane, kerosene, wood, coal, or heating oil; or

(2) cooling, the household must choose electricity as the primary cooling energy source.

(e) Eligibility criteria.ECAP eligibility criteria are detailed in (1) through (5) of this subsection.

(1) Households with an energy crisis must not exceed the income and liquid resource standards, per DHS Appendix C-7, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program Income and Resource Level by Household Size.Households must meet the same income and resource criteria for ECAP as for heating and cooling assistance, per Oklahoma Administrative Code 340:20-1-11.

(2) Households must have a verified energy crisis.  • 1An energy crisis exists when:

(A) service is disconnected by the energy supplier;

(B) the household has a verified, active cut-off order scheduled within 72 hours;

(C) the household received a notice of refusal to provide additional energy needs by the supplier and the household's fuel supply is or will be depleted within 72 hours or less; or

(D) the household provides information regarding a fee for a new connection.

(3) The household must have experienced a precipitating factor that caused the household to choose between paying the energy bill and another vital household need.  • 2

(A) Acceptable factors include, but are not limited to, temporary or short-term situations that caused the household to make a choice between paying the energy bill and:

(i) purchasing sufficient food for the household;

(ii) paying for emergency situations, such as medical expenses or disaster recovery; or

(iii) providing clothing for children in the household.

(B) When the household was approved for the maximum ECAP payment during the most recent fiscal year, no further ECAP payments are made during the same fiscal year.

(C) Households approved for less than the maximum ECAP payment may be approved for another ECAP payment during the same fiscal year, provided the total approved for all payments does not exceed the maximum ECAP payment, per DHS Appendix C-7-A.Per 42 U.S.C. § 8624(b)(16), an additional ECAP payment is not approved for the same fiscal year when the household:

(i) refuses to participate in budget counseling and home energy conservation workshops provided by Community Action agencies;

(ii) did not show any progress in improving its situation; or

(iii) did not make an effort to maintain current utility bills.

(4) The household must explain why the energy crisis need cannot be met by available income and liquid resources, even when income and liquid resources are equal to or below the standard, per DHS Appendix C-7. 3

(5) When the ECAP benefit amount is insufficient to establish, restore, or prevent the cut-off of the household's energy source, ECAP is authorized only when the ECAP payment, combined with other resources that are available or can be developed, to meet the energy crisis.When a feasible plan cannot be developed, the ECAP application is denied.  4

(f) ECAP payment requirements.ECAP payment requirements are included in (1) through (4) of this subsection.

(1) The authorized ECAP benefit is limited to the amount necessary to connect, restore, or maintain energy service to the household, up to the established maximum for the program year, per DHS Appendix C-7-A.   • 5

(2) DHS makes payments for crisis assistance directly to energy suppliers unless the energy supplier is not designated to receive direct payments from DHS. • 6

(3) The authorized benefit cannot include the cost of propane or butane tank delivery.   • 7

(4) When other utilities are included with the heating or cooling bill, such as water, sewer, or trash, the authorized benefit cannot include the other utility charges.In this situation, the applicant must provide a utility bill that itemizes the charges for each utility or this information must be obtained from the energy supplier.When the client is unable to pay the other utility costs and the provider is unwilling to continue heating or cooling service, the application is denied until the applicant provides verification that the other utilities were or can be paid.

(g) Timeliness requirement.Per 42 U.S.C. § 8623(c), an ECAP application is considered timely processed when it is approved or denied within:  • 8

(1) 18 hours of the household requesting ECAP when the energy crisis involves a life-threatening medical situation.

(A) To be considered a life-threatening medical situation, the energy crisis must involve the energy source required:

(i) for life-saving medical equipment to be operational.  • 9The medical equipment must be prescribed by a licensed health care professional and require electricity to operate.When the medical equipment has an available battery backup in case of an electricity outage, the medical situation is not considered life-threatening.The client must provide medical records or a licensed health care professional statement dated within the last six months verifying that the medical equipment is prescribed and a battery backup is not available.Examples of life-saving medical equipment include, but are not limited to: • 10

(I) a kidney dialysis machine;

(II) an iron lung;

(III) an oxygen concentrator or other type of oxygen machine; or

(IV) a cardiac monitor; or

(ii) to power heating or air conditioning equipment when the temperature is predicted to be hot or cold enough to create a life-threatening medical situation if the energy source is not functioning.To be considered a life threatening medical situation, the temperature on the disconnection date must be predicted to be:

(I) a heat index of at least 101 degrees in summer months; or

(II) 32 degrees or lower during day time hours and/or 20 degrees or lower during night time hours in winter months.

(B) Authority for designating a medical situation as life-threatening is limited to a:

(i) licensed health care professional; or

(ii) public health official; and

(2) 48 hours of receipt of a complete application when the energy crisis does not involve a life-threatening medical situation.A complete application means the application is signed and submitted and all verification is provided.

Revised 9-16-19

1. Centralized Adult and Family Services (AFS) Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) staff documents how the energy crisis was verified in Family Assistance/Client Services (FACS) case notes and images forms and verification in the case record.

2. Centralized AFS LIHEAP staff must document in FACS case notes:

(1) the reason the household gave for not paying the energy bill; and

(2) if the reason given is acceptable.

3. Centralized LIHEAP staff documents the applicant's explanation in FACS case notes.

4. When the energy crisis payment is insufficient to meet the household's energy crisis, centralized AFS LIHEAP staff must document how the remainder of the energy bill will be met in FACS case notes.

5. Centralized AFS LIHEAP staff informs the energy supplier of the payment amount Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) will make for the household. The household receives a computer-generated notice explaining the payment amount or reason for denial.

6. When direct payment cannot be made to the vendor, the approved payment may be made directly to the household on an Oklahoma MasterCard debit card or when the household receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or State Supplemental Payment cash assistance by direct deposit, payment may be made through direct deposit in the same bank account per Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:65-3-6 debit card and direct deposit procedures.

7. The household must work out a payment plan for the tank delivery fee with the utility supplier.

8. Following verification of the crisis and determination of eligibility, certifying centralized AFS LIHEAP staff contacts the fuel supplier to:

(1) verify the amount necessary to connect, restore, or maintain energy service; and

(2) pledge the required amount, up to the maximum benefit amount available to the household, per DHS Appendix C-7-A, Estimated LIHEAP Benefit Level For All Households.

9. AFS LIHEAP program field representative staff must document in detail in FACS case notes or in the case record why a crisis is considered life-threatening.

10. Equipment not considered life-sustaining includes, but is limited to, a:

(1) hot water heater;

(2) refrigerator;

(3) stove;

(4) nebulizer that is battery-driven, hand-driven, or self-contained;

(5) battery-driven apnea monitor; or

(6) battery-driven cardiac monitor.

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