Energy assistance expanded for Wisconsin families

Elisabeth Rusch

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) is extending its program timeline and making it easier for Wisconsin families to apply for energy assistance. WHEAP assists eligible households with heating and electric costs as well as energy crisis situations.


Gov. Tony Evers has issued a policy that utility companies can not disconnect customers and the state has made some significant changes surrounding energy assistance. The major changes include making exceptions for photo ids and income verification.


Eligibility for  WHEAP is based on income and the number of people per household. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, energy assistance was available from Oct. 1 to May 15, and income verification was based on the applicant’s income three months prior to applying.  Now, due to the financial strain that many Americans are facing, assistance will be provided through Sept. 30, and income eligibility will be based on the applicant’s income only one month prior to applying.


Beth Opsal, who works as an energy assistance intake for Western Dairyland, Eau Claire county’s entity for energy assistance, says that they have not seen a significant increase in applications yet but anticipates they will in the coming summer months.


“As we move through the summer, we’ll see people with little to no income,” Opsal said. “We expect to see increases in applications in May, June, and July.”


It is anticipated that there will be many more people who now qualify for the program. The additional funding allowing WHEAP to serve these people is coming from stimulus money provided to the state.


Eau Claire residents can learn more about eligibility requirements and the application process by visiting the Western Dairyland website.