HARRISBURG – As part of its 14th year of “Prepare Now” education efforts, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today urged utilities to help Pennsylvania consumers prepared for handling the costs associated with upcoming winter energy bills.
The PUC’s Prepare Now campaign educates consumers about the availability of low-income programs; increases consumer awareness of ways to reduce winter heating costs; educates consumers on energy conservation. It also encourages consumers to check electric and natural gas bills and supplier contracts, while informing consumers about PAPowerSwitch.com and PAGasSwitch.com as resources to shop for services.
A letter signed by the five PUC Commissioners has been sent to all of Pennsylvania’s electric and natural gas utility companies under the PUC’s jurisdiction, asking them to join the Commission in educating consumers about the many winter assistance programs and services that are available. The letter also includes specific suggestions for utility companies and emphasizes that they have more flexibility to make allowances for payment-troubled customers than the PUC does, under the law.
“Changing circumstances may trigger a need for assistance for individuals and families who may not have faced this situation before. It is imperative that we work together to remind consumers about the availability of such programs, and we urge all utilities to increase their outreach efforts to ensure that consumers receive information about any program for which they may be eligible,” the Commissioners wrote.
The Prepare Now campaign encourages consumers on limited or fixed incomes to call their utility about programs to help heat their homes or pay their energy bills such as Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs) and Low Income Usage Reduction Programs (LIURP). It also appeals to the companies to increase efforts to educate consumers about other programs, such as grants under the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) – which is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS).
Consumers interested in more information about these important programs can visit the PUC website, www.puc.pa.gov, and click on the "Prepare Now" link; follow social media messages that contain the #PrepareNow tag; or call the PUC at 1-800-692-7380.
Consumer outreach specialists from the PUC are active across the state, conducting or participating in workshop events, free seminars, roundtable discussions and community fairs. During those events, plain language materials and literature designed to educate consumers about assistance programs and their rights are handed out. Materials include information on consumer rights in dealing with terminations and reconnections, available low-income programs and tips on how to “Prepare Now” for winter. For more information on hosting a PUC consumer outreach specialist at a community event, please call 717-787-5722.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
For recent news releases and video of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.pa.gov. Follow the PUC on Twitter – @PA_PUC for all things utility. “Like” Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Facebook for easy access to information on utility issues.
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Editor’s Note: High resolution video of Chairman Gladys Brown discussing the Prepare Now campaign is available using the following link http://papuc.isebox.net/puc-kicks-off-prepare-now-campaign/puc-kicks-off-prepare-now-campaign