HARRISBURG – The Vice Chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) – Andrew G. Place – will kick off a meeting with social service organizations from across the Laurel Highlands as part of a series of statewide events highlighting customer assistance programs intended to help low-income households maintain essential utility services.
The PUC’s “Be Utility Wise” event for the Johnstown/Laurel Highlands Region is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 31, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Holiday Inn Johnstown Downtown, 250 Market St., Johnstown. Vice Chairman Place will open the daylong educational session with his insights on the role of assistance program and the Commission’s efforts to address this important issue.
Vice Chairman Place has been a leading voice behind the Commission’s ongoing in-depth study of “energy burdens” for Pennsylvania households – exploring how much income is spent on heat and lighting – and how that impacts a family’s ability to maintain essential utility service. He has also championed a companion effort, evaluating Commission policies regarding utility programs aimed at making utility service for low-income households more affordable and more efficient.
The PUC’s Be Utility Wise events are intended to help local human service agencies and assistance organizations better understand the utility programs and services available in their communities. The free “train-the-trainer” events feature presentations from state agencies, local utility companies and other financial assistance programs to share ideas. Presenters will discuss financial assistance programs for utility customers, career tools for job seekers, energy conservation and weatherization, protecting against utility scams and more.
According to data compiled by the PUC, Pennsylvania utilities spent nearly $398 million on various customer assistance programs last year, not counting private assistance or the federal Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Every year, these programs help reduce the monthly bills or reduce energy consumption for more than 313,000 electric customers and over 160,000 natural gas customers across the state – and enrollment and annual spending for these programs has increased dramatically over the past decade.
Additionally, utilities and their customers also contribute several million dollars per year in hardship funds, assisting thousands of in-need families.
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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