340:20-1-17. Energy Crisis Assistance Program (ECAP)
(a) ECAP funds. Based upon previous years' program experience, Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) reserves reasonable funds each year for ECAP to resolve energy crisis situations, per Section 8623(c) of Title 42 of the United States Code (42 U.S.C. § 8623(c)), to:
(1) prevent disconnect of service when the household has a verified, active cut-off order;
(2) restore or start service; or
(3) provide a minimum delivery of propane or other heating fuel.
(b) ECAP components. ECAP consists of three components:
(1) a regularly scheduled application period in March each year;
(2) year round assistance available to households experiencing an energy crisis that involves a life-threatening medical situation on a case-by-case basis; and
(3) disaster Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) when a federally declared disaster occurs and disaster LIHEAP is authorized by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Community Services (OCS). When this occurs OKDHS follows ACF OCS program instructions issued for the disaster. The instructions may differ from ECAP requirements contained in this Section.
(c) 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 allowed per fiscal year for ECAP on OKDHS Appendix C-7-A, Estimated Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Benefit Level For All Households. An additional benefit amount may be approved when additional funds are authorized during a federally-declared disaster.
(d) ECAP application methods. Households apply for ECAP by submitting an online application at www.okdhslive.org, calling an OKDHS county office to request assistance in submitting an online application, or calling the phone number on the www.okdhslive.org website to request Form 08LH002E, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Application, be mailed to them. Centralized LIHEAP staff includes a postage paid envelope with a mailed Form 08LH002E.
(1) When there is a life-threatening medical situation, centralized LIHEAP staff gathers eligibility information by phone and an application is not required.
(2) When the household chooses to complete Form 08LH002E, they must complete and return the application by email, by fax to the number on the form, or by mail to the return address shown on Form 08LH002E and the postage paid envelope.
(3) Centralized LIHEAP staff approve or deny ECAP applications.
(e) Main energy source. Households may choose heating or cooling as the main energy source for ECAP when the household's main energy source meets criteria per (f)(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 main heating energy source used to heat the home is approved. This may be electricity, natural gas, propane, kerosene, firewood, coal, butane, or heating oil. When the household uses a generator to heat the home, the generator may use natural gas, propane, or gasoline; or
(2) cooling, the main cooling energy source used to cool the home is approved. In most instances, the main cooling source is electricity. When the household uses a generator to cool the home, the generator may use natural gas, propane, or gasoline.
(f) 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 OKDHS 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 (OAC) 340:20-1-11.
(2) Households must have a verified energy crisis. • 1 An energy crisis exists when the household:
(A) service is disconnected by the energy supplier;
(B) has a verified, active cut-off order. In the event of limited funding, centralized LIHEAP staff prioritizes applications with cut-off notices scheduled within 72 hours and applications that contain at least one household member who is 60 years of age and older, blind, disabled, or a child under five years of age;
(C) receives a refusal notice to provide additional energy needs from the energy supplier and the household's fuel tank indicator is at or below 10 percent during the regularly-scheduled ECAP period, or at 25 percent or less for households with a life-threatening medical situation;
(D) provides information regarding a new connection fee;
(E) has a cash only, cash advance, or pre-paid account and has less than a $25 minimum balance in the account. The household's utility bill shows that it is a cash only, cash advance, or pre-paid account and the balance amount; or
(F) enters into a payment plan with the energy supplier to prevent a service cut-off. When the household enters into a payment plan to prevent service cut-off, centralized LIHEAP staff verifies the payment plan and the minimum amount needed to resolve the energy crisis for at least one month with the energy supplier. • 2
(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. • 3
(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 unless additional funds are authorized during a federally-declared disaster.
(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 OKDHS 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) does not show any progress in improving its situation; or
(iii) does 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 OKDHS Appendix C-7. • 4
(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 other resources can be combined with the ECAP payment to resolve the energy crisis. When other resources cannot be developed to help resolve the energy crisis, the ECAP application is denied. • 5
(g) ECAP payment requirements. ECAP payment requirements are included in (1) through (4) of this subsection.
(1) The authorized ECAP benefit is limited to the minimum amount necessary to connect, restore, or maintain energy service to the household, up to the established maximum for the program year, per OKDHS Appendix C-7-A. The payment must resolve the energy crisis for at least one month. ECAP funds are not used to pay utility charges carried over from a previous utility account or that is in debt collection, unless the client moved to a new location because of a domestic violence situation and provides proof of the domestic violence, such as a police report. • 6
(2) OKDHS makes payments for crisis assistance directly to energy suppliers unless the energy supplier is not designated to receive direct payments from OKDHS. When direct payment cannot be made to the energy supplier, OKDHS makes the payment to the household by debit card or direct deposit, per OAC 340:65-3-6.
(3) The authorized benefit cannot include the propane or butane tank delivery cost. • 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 client must provide a utility bill that itemizes the charges for each utility, or this information is obtained from the energy supplier. When the client is unable to pay the other utility costs and the energy supplier is unwilling to continue heating or cooling service, the application is denied until the client provides verification that the other utilities were or can be paid.
(h) 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. • 9 The 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 a licensed health care professional's statement dated within the last 60-calendar day period or the most recent six months of medical records 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) power heating or air conditioning equipment when the temperature is predicted to be hot or cold enough to create a life-threatening medical situation for a person with a pre-existing medical condition 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, 20 degrees or lower during night time hours in winter months, or both.
(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.
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. Example: The client receives a cut-off order showing $300 must be paid by May 16th to avoid cut-off. The client applies for the Energy Crisis Assistance Program (ECAP) on May 14th and contacts the energy supplier May 16th to enter into a payment plan to prevent cut-off. In the payment plan, the energy supplier averages the $300 owed over three months so the minimum payment to prevent cut-off for at least one month is $100. Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) pays $100 to resolve the energy crisis, not the full $300 owed.
3. 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.
4. Centralized LIHEAP staff documents the client's explanation in FACS case notes.
5. 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.
6. (a) Centralized AFS LIHEAP staff informs the energy supplier of the payment amount OKDHS will make for the household. The household receives a computer-generated notice explaining the payment amount or reason for denial.
(b) ECAP pays for one rick of firewood or 100 gallons of refillable fuel when the household uses these energy sources. When the household has a cash only, cash advance, or pre-paid account, ECAP pays for one month of average usage. When the utility service is off, ECAP pays for one month of average usage plus the reconnection fee. When ECAP is approved for a life-threatening emergency, ECAP also pays any additional negative arrearage to mitigate the household's medical crisis.
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 eligibility determination, 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 OKDHS Appendix C-7-A, Estimated LIHEAP Benefit Level For All Households.
9. AFS LIHEAP Unit staff must document in detail why a crisis is considered life-threatening in FACS case notes or in the case record.
10. Equipment not considered life-sustaining includes a:
(1) hot water heater unless specified as medically necessary in the medical statement;
(2) refrigerator unless specified as medically necessary in the medical statement;
(4) nebulizer that is battery-driven, hand-driven, or self-contained;
(5) battery-driven apnea monitor;
(6) battery-driven cardiac monitor; or
(7) battery-driven continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.