Whatcom, Island counties — Opportunity Council is offering two new energy assistance programs with expanded eligibility for people who have lost income, had increased costs, or are in some way affected by COVID-19.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) COVID-19 Contingency Benefit provides additional support for people who have already received LIHEAP assistance and have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new Cascade Natural Gas (CNG) Hardship Economic Assistance Receivable Temporary (HEART) program is available for CNG customers impacted by COVID-19.

In addition to the new programs, regular energy assistance appointments are still available, including LIHEAP, Puget Sound Energy HELP and Cascade Natural Gas assistance, to help households pay for heating, gas and electric utilities.

Requests for the new, expanded energy assistance can be made online at,  https://www.oppco.org/covid-energy/    People in Whatcom County without internet may call the energy line, (360) 255-2192 or (888) 586-7293, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. People in Island County can call (360) 679-6577 or (800)317-5427.

A limited number of crisis appointments are available each week starting at 9 a.m. Monday for the current week. All appointments are scheduled by phone or online on a first come, first served basis. Opportunity Council is closed to walk-ins.

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Distributed to Whatcom County and Island County media outlets.