HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today released the results of a mid-winter follow-up survey focusing on households without utility-related heat, showing a substantial drop in residents who do not have electric or natural gas service compared to the Commission’s initial survey in December. Additionally, the Commission continues to urge any resident without heat-related utility service to take immediate action to seek assistance, noting that numerous utility assistance programs are available to help restore and maintain their service.
“Working together with utilities, other state agencies and human service organizations across the state, we continue to reduce the number of Pennsylvania households without heat-related utility service,” said PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “Overall, the number of homes without central heat or using potentially unsafe heat has been cut by nearly 40 percent since our initial Cold Weather Survey in December – but that still leaves approximately 14,000 households without a safe central heating source. We urge any consumer currently without service to call their utility, the PUC or human service agencies in their communities as soon as possible to learn more about the many resources available.”
The PUC’s Cold Weather Survey, conducted prior to the start of each winter heating season, requires regulated electric and natural gas utilities to survey residential properties where service has been terminated and not reconnected during the course of the calendar year. Midway through the winter those utilities are required to conduct a follow-up survey, identifying any changes in the number of residences that are without utility-related heat or using potentially unsafe heating sources.
The re-survey detailed the following changes, as of Feb. 1, 2017:
A total of 13,750 Pennsylvania homes were identified as not using a central heating system or using potentially unsafe heat, compared to 22,025 reported in the initial Cold Weather Survey – a 38 percent improvement.
3,167 residences are without electric utility service, compared to 6,949 reported in December 2016 – a 54 percent reduction.
10,583 residences are without natural gas utility service, compared to 15,076 reported in December 2016 – a 30 percent reduction.
Note: Some households may be without both electric and natural gas service, resulting in a double counting of some households.
The PUC continues reaching out to both consumers and utilities as part of its ongoing “Prepare Now” campaign; urging residents on limited or fixed incomes to call their utilities 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). According to the PUC’s most recent Universal Service Report, those assistance programs impact more than 767,000 households and are valued at over $418 million per year.
The Commission has also appealed to utilities to increase their outreach efforts to educate consumers about other available resources, such as grants under the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) – which is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) – with information available through local County Assistance Offices or via the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095.
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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