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 DETROIT, Nov. 29 /PRNewswire/-- Detroit Edison's (NYSE: DTE) low-income customers can protect themselves against the cold this winter by participating in energy-management and bill-payment programs to avoid electric service shutoffs.
 "We urge customers with bill-payment problems to call us at 1-800-477-4747 as soon as possible so we can work with them to prevent shutoffs," said Robert J. Buckler, senior vice president for Energy Marketing and Distribution at Detroit Edison.
 Detroit Edison offers its year-round energy management program, sharing conservation techniques during home visits with low-income customers. Again this winter, the utility will match donations to THAW (The Heat and Warmth) Fund, a non-profit organization of Southeastern Michigan community agencies, businesses and churches. THAW gives one- time energy assistance between January and April each year with donated funds. Detroit Edison will provide up to $1 million in matching funds this winter to help THAW recipients and homeless shelters pay their electric bills.
 "We can offer many alternatives from energy conservation measures to information on financial assistance when customers need help paying their electric bills," Buckler said. "But help is available only when customers take the initial step of telling Detroit Edison about their problem."
 The Energy Management Program
 Detroit Edison's energy management program focuses on practical tips for day-to-day electric use. Energy-efficient light bulbs, water flow restrictors and water heater wraps are installed in the homes of participating low-income customers to encourage conservation. For a nominal fee, Detroit Edison will replace qualified customers' defective primary refrigerators with energy-saving new models.
 "We visit customers individually to show them how to adjust electric usage to levels they can afford," Buckler said. "But our efforts don't end there. We follow the one-hour visit with telephone calls to offer encouragement and answer participants' questions."
 The two-year-old program has successfully helped 82 percent of participants reduce electric use by an average of 23 percent. More than 122,000 customers have called Detroit Edison about conservation education and nearly 67,000 have been visited at home. Between December 1992 and September 1993, conservation devices were installed in more than 24,000 customers' homes.
 The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW)
 When customers have exhausted other public and private community resources, THAW may provide last-resort energy assistance. THAW assists residents of Huron, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Sanilac, St. Clair, Tuscola, Washtenaw and Wayne counties who qualify.
 To assist THAW's outreach efforts, Detroit Edison will ask customers to enclose with their electric bill payments donations which the utility will match. Last winter, THAW helped more than 3,400 Detroit Edison customers -- a 26-percent increase from 1992. With funds from more than 28,000 donors and matching funds from Detroit Edison, more than $1.02 million was raised last winter.
 "We hope our customers will give generously to THAW this winter to help fellow Southeastern Michigan residents who face financial uncertainties and need help," Buckler said.
 Donors can send checks or money orders to: The Heat and Warmth Fund, P.O. Box 1000, Plymouth, MI 48170. Donations also may be charged using VISA or MasterCard by calling 1-800-866-THAW (or 8429).
 Once the fund-raising drive is under way, THAW funds will be available to qualified customers beginning Jan. 17, 1994. For more information about receiving THAW assistance, call United Community Services' Tel-Help Line in Detroit at 313-226-9888 or outside Detroit call 1-800-552-1183.
 Help for Homeless Shelters, Other Programs
 In addition, designated permanent homeless shelters throughout Detroit Edison's service area again will receive bill payment credits from the utility to help them through the winter months. Energy assistance to homeless shelters will cover bills due between Jan. 1 and April 30, 1994. Earlier this year, Detroit Edison provided $73,800 in energy credits toward winter electric bills for homeless shelters.
 Detroit Edison also can help qualified customers sign up for the Winter Protection Plan, which prevents shutoffs from Dec. 1, 1993 through March 31, 1994. Participants must meet either income, age or other program requirements to qualify. For example, all Detroit Edison customers age 62 and older are exempt from service shutoffs for the four-month period. Call Detroit Edison at 1-800-477-4747 to learn more about the program.
 Michigan Department of Social Services (DSS) clients also can avoid payment problems by authorizing the DSS to pay monthly bills directly to Detroit Edison. For those who are not DSS clients, emergency assistance funds may be available from the state if qualified persons have lost or face the loss of their electric service. Information about DSS programs is available by calling the DSS at 1-800-292-5650.
 Customers also may qualify for other programs such as state tax credits or free home weatherization. Information on home heating credits is available through the nearest Michigan Department of Treasury Office or in the 1993 Michigan State Tax booklet. Local community action agencies can provide more information about weatherization programs. The agencies are listed in local telephone directories and in Detroit Edison's 1993-94 Special Needs brochure mailed to all customers in October and available in the utility's customer offices.
 -0- 11/29/93
 /CONTACT: Mary Kay Bean, 313-237-8809, or Lorie N. Kessler, 313-237-8807, both of Detroit Edison/

CO: The Detroit Edison Company ST: Michigan IN: UTI SU:

ML -- DE011 -- 8190 11/29/93 10:18 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 29, 1993

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