FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Energy Share and what do they help with?

Energy Share is an independent nonprofit organization that helps Montanans overcome energy emergencies. Our assistance is situationally-based (not income-based), and we can help no matter your heat source or your energy provider.

Is Energy Share assistance income-based?

No. Energy Share assistance is situationally-based (not income-based).

Can Energy Share help me no matter what I use to heat my home (natural gas, electricity, propane, fuel oil, etc.)?

Yes, Energy Share can help you no matter what your heat source is.

How long does it take to get approval?

If the application is completely filled out, turn-around time for Energy Share assistance is between 1-2 weeks. It is important to contact your energy provider and Energy Share as soon as you get a past due or disconnect notice. Don’t wait to ask for help!

If I got LIHEAP, can I get Energy Share as well?

  • Getting help with LIHEAP does not mean you can’t get help with Energy Share, and vice versa. The two programs serve two different purposes.
  • LIHEAP pays part of winter energy bills for eligible people.
  • Energy Share is for energy emergencies, which means someone is facing loss of heat or lights and has no resources to pay the bill themselves.

What are the similarities between Energy Share and LIHEAP?

  • Both programs help people no matter what their heat source is.
  • You apply for both programs at the HRDCs across Montana.

What are the differences between Energy Share and LIHEAP?

  • Energy Share

    • Focuses on energy emergencies
    • Assistance is not usually more than once every five years
    • Reviews individual circumstances
    • Privately funded
    • Helps with heat source and electricity, depending on circumstances
    • Both programs help people no matter what their heat source is.
    • You apply for both programs at the HRDCs across Montana.

  • LIHEAP

    • You do not need to be facing an energy emergency
    • You can get LIHEAP every year that you qualify for it
    • You must meet eligibility guidelines
    • Federally funded
    • Only helps with primary heat source
    • Both programs help people no matter what their heat source is.
    • You apply for both programs at the HRDCs across Montana.

Where do I apply for Energy Share?

There are ten offices around the state that handle Energy Share applications. These offices are in the Human Resource Development Councils (HRDCs), which also handle LIHEAP applications. To see a list of which HRDC handles applications for which county, click here.

Is there an application online?

Each HRDC understands the needs of their community at a local level, so each office has a slightly different set of questions and information on the cover page. To see if the office that handles applications for your area has an online application, click here.

Does Energy Share have other programs besides emergency bill assistance?

Yes. Energy Share has a statewide Appliance Replacement and Baseload Reduction program which repairs or replaces certain unsafe or inefficient appliances, heating systems and/or water heaters in qualified homes. Use the link just above to contact the office that serves your area.

Additionally, for eligible customers of Energy West and Montana-Dakota Utilities, we have two programs:

  1. Furnace and Water Heater Safety and Efficiency: we examine the furnace and/or water heater. We will repair it if possible, or replace it with an energy-efficient model if necessary.
  2. Weatherization: cost-effective energy conservation measures are installed in the homes of income-qualified households. First, the Weatherization crews perform an audit to determine what measures would be most effective. Then they do the work after agreement from the home owner and/or landlord.

Click here to see if you are in an area where either of these programs are operated.

How can I help Energy Share?

  • Of course, you can always donate! Energy Share is a 501(c)(3), independent, nonprofit organization so your gifts are tax deductible. 100% of private donations are used to help someone in need and – better yet – it will be used first in the area from which it originated.
    • You can also designate your gift for the Endowment. Just write “Endowment” on your check. It’s a great way to help Montanans with their home energy needs for years to come.
  • Another way to help is to support someone who needs to apply. It’s hard enough to ask for help, but even worse if you can’t pay your bills and you feel down and out. If you know someone who needs help with their home energy bill:
    • Help them find the application form;
    • Help them locate the right office for that area;
    • Help them complete the application; and/or
    • Drop it off or mail it to the appropriate office.

Click here for the list of offices in Montana that handle Energy Share applications.

  • Many people simply do not want to ask for help because they feel like they’re getting a “hand-out”. With Energy Share, if/when a person is in the position to do so they can repay their Energy Share assistance and the money will be used to help someone else in need.

How do I repay the Energy Share assistance I received?

  1. You do not have to repay your assistance, but if you do we will use it to help someone else in need. It also means you may be eligible for additional Energy Share assistance, depending on your situation.
  2. If you decide to repay some or all of your assistance, you can make a check or money order payable to Energy Share. In the check memo area write “Repayment” and, if you have it, write your “HH ID#” (which can be obtained from the office where you received Energy Share assistance). Mail it to:

Energy Share of Montana
PO Box 5959
Helena, MT 59604-5959

  1. To repay electronically, click here .
  2. Take or mail your repayment to the office (HRDC) where you received Energy Share assistance. Make sure they know you’re repaying your Energy Share assistance.

How do I donate to Energy Share?

  • Donate electronically here
  • Mail a check to Energy Share, PO Box 5959, Helena, MT 59604-5959.
  • If you add an Energy Share donation to your monthly bill, most major utilities in Montana will forward it to Energy Share as long as you clearly state what it is for. Check first with your energy provider. Some of them have a box to check if you want to donate to Energy Share.
  • Every November you’ll see an Energy Share donation envelope or pledge card in your utility bill, or if you’re a member of the Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association it will be in the November issue of the “Rural Montana” magazine.

NOTE: In an effort to keep administrative costs low, Energy Share does not take credit card donations over the phone.

Is there a limit to how much help I can get from Energy Share?

  • Yes there is. Because Energy Share is a private, nonprofit organization we raise funds across Montana, and then distribute it to those in need. Those funds are limited.
  • Energy Share’s purpose is to help people facing one-time emergencies, so we restrict assistance to once every ten years or a recommended maximum of $1,400 to $2,000 within that five-year time frame.
    • That is a flexible guideline, and can be adjusted under certain circumstances.

What is Energy Share’s administrative rate?

For many years Energy Share’s administrative rate has hovered between 7% and 10%.