GAHANNA – The Ohio Neighbor to Neighbor Program is accepting applications for utility assistance grants for the 2017-2018 winter heating season. Through a partnership between AEP Ohio, a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), and Dollar Energy Fund, eligible AEP Ohio customers who need help during the winter months can apply for assistance to maintain or restore their electric service.

Dollar Energy Fund’s Hardship Program – one of the largest in the country – may provide assistance once per program year to families facing an immediate utility crisis. With help from the Neighbor to Neighbor Program, families in need can receive a grant that is applied directly to their AEP Ohio account that has been terminated or to prevent the termination of their electric service. The program will accept applications from households seeking heating assistance on a first-come, first-served basis through April 30, 2018, while funds are available.

AEP Ohio and Dollar Energy Fund launched the Ohio Neighbor to Neighbor Program in May 2009 and have helped more than 50,000 Ohio families with more than $12.4 million in utility assistance grants.

“We all know Ohio winters can be brutally cold, very unpredictable and extremely challenging for many people, especially the elderly and those with health problems,” said Katie Grayem, director of Customer Experience and Communications for AEP Ohio. “For many Ohio families, heating their homes during this time can also pose a difficult financial burden. Being a good community partner and neighbor is who we are and what we do, and we are committed to giving our neighbors, who may struggle to make ends meet, a helping hand to ensure their electric service continues.”

To apply, customers may contact one of the Neighbor to Neighbor Program network of more than 120 Ohio community-based organizations. To qualify, an applicant’s total gross household income must be at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines.

For example, a family of four earning up to $49,200 per year is income-eligible for the program. Households must have made a sincere effort of payment on their electric bill in the last 90 days and have a minimum balance of $50 on their AEP Ohio bill. Full eligibility guidelines and application instructions can be found at AEPOhio.com/helpaneighbor.

“Neighbor to Neighbor has become a program that typically serves the families who find themselves in a temporary financial situation due to an unexpected expense or loss of income,” said Chad Quinn, chief executive officer of Dollar Energy Fund. “The Neighbor to Neighbor Program is available to lend a helping hand to Ohioans who may be struggling to keep food on the table or cover all other household costs.”

The Neighbor to Neighbor Program in Ohio is funded by public contributions that are matched dollar-for-dollar by AEP Ohio. Utility customers may make a contribution through their monthly AEP Ohio bill. Donations also can be made online at AEPOhio.com/helpaneighbor or by sending a check directly to the Ohio Neighbor to Neighbor Program, Box 42329, Pittsburgh, PA 15203. Every donation to the Neighbor to Neighbor Program is used to assist eligible families residing in Ohio.

For more information about Dollar Energy Fund and how to apply for the Hardship Program or donate to the organization, visit www.dollarenergyfund.org.