HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today released the results of its annual mid-winter resurvey of households without heat-related electric and natural gas utility service.
The resurvey is a follow-up to the PUC’s annual Cold Weather Survey, which is conducted prior to the start of each winter heating season. Regulated electric and natural gas utilities are required 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. More extensive data about utility service – including terminations; reconnections; the number of low-income and payment-troubled customers; and the size and scope of various customer assistance programs is available in the PUC’s annual Universal Service Report.
The re-survey detailed the following changes, as of Feb. 2, 2018:
13,522 homes were identified as being without a central heating source or using potentially unsafe heat, as compared to 19,295 reported in the initial Cold Weather Survey – with an additional 1,420 homes reported as vacant.
3,780 residences are without electric heating service, compared to 6,351 reported in December 2017 - with a portion of that reduction, 1,478 homes, attributed to homes now identified as vacant.
9,742 residences are without natural gas utility service, compared to 12,944 reported in December 2017 – with 58 less homes identified as vacant.
Note: Some households may be without both electric and natural gas heating 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 474,500 households and are valued at over $397 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 – 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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