HARRISBURG – As part of its 16th year of “Prepare Now” education efforts, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today urged utilities to help Pennsylvania consumers who may struggle with the cost of cold-weather energy bills.
The PUC’s 2018 Prepare Now campaign continues to focus on educating consumers about the availability of low-income programs; increasing consumer awareness of ways to reduce winter heating costs; educating consumers on energy conservation; encouraging consumers to check electric and natural gas bills and supplier contracts; and informing customers about PAPowerSwitch.com and PAGasSwitch.com as resources to shop for energy suppliers and learn more about efficiency and conservation measures.
A letter signed by the 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.
“Every year, utilities across Pennsylvania spend about $385 million on customer assistance programs, not counting the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), including payment programs to reduce monthly energy bills; weatherization and other improvements to cut energy consumption; and hardship programs. Collectively, these utility programs reach more than 302,000 electric customers and over 150,000 natural gas customers across the state,” the Commissioners wrote.
Electric and natural gas customers across the state are helping heat their homes or pay energy bills through Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs), Low-Income Usage Reduction Programs (LIURPs) and other services. Low-income households may also be eligible for grants under LIHEAP, a companion to the utility-based services.
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, 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.
Visit the PUC’s website at www.puc.pa.gov for recent news releases and video of select proceedings. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube. Search for the “Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission” or “PA PUC” on your favorite social media channel for updates on utility issues and other helpful consumer information.
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