The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) joined with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) to mark the start of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for the 2022-23 winter heating season. This year’s LIHEAP season opens Nov. 1, 2022.
The PUC also encouraged consumers to #CallUtilitiesNow to explore a wide variety of utility assistance programs and other affordability options to help manage energy use and keep utility bills affordable during the coming winter.
“Working together, LIHEAP and various PUC-required utility assistance programs help hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania households stay connected, safe and warm,” said PUC Chair Gladys Brown Dutrieuille. “We strongly encourage families to apply for LIHEAP and #CallUtilitiesNow to explore all the available options.”
PUC Chair Dutrieuille was joined today by the Commission’s two newest members – Vice Chairman Stephen M. DeFrank and Commissioner Kathryn L. Zerfuss. Together, the PUC commissioners emphasized that direct conversations between customers and utilities are the best “first step” for any Pennsylvania household or business struggling with utility bills.
“#CallUtilitiesNow is the best way to identify what help may be available to you, your family and your business,” noted PUC Vice Chairman Stephen DeFrank. “Also, be sure to call all your utilities: electric, natural gas, water, wastewater and telecommunications because each may have different programs or resources available.”
Utilities understand the assistance programs available in their communities for income-qualified consumers – including utility-run Customer Assistance Programs, national programs like LIHEAP, and various hardship fund programs operated by utilities and non-profit organizations.
Public Utility Customer Assistance Programs
The PUC encourages consumers to contact their utilities for more information about various utility-operated Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs) that may be available, in addition to LIHEAP assistance. According to the PUC’s latest data, utilities across Pennsylvania spent approximately $459 million on universal service programs, not counting LIHEAP.
“Customer Assistance Programs have a significant impact across Pennsylvania,” said PUC Commissioner Kathryn Zerfuss. “Collectively, these utility programs reach over 317,000 electric customers and approximately 181,000 natural gas customers, reducing monthly energy bills; promoting weatherization; reducing energy consumption; and keeping people connected and safe.”
Utilities can help enroll consumers in assistance programs, guide them to other available resources and discuss new payment plan options to address overdue balances and help consumers move forward.
“LIHEAP helps some of the commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens – children, older Pennsylvanians, people with disabilities, and low-income families – make ends meet and keep their home safe through the winter,” said Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead. “Nobody should ever have to worry that their heat will be shut off during the coldest and darkest months of the year, so I encourage anyone who may need help, or anyone who has loved ones or neighbors who could benefit from this program, to apply for LIHEAP today.”