PUC Reaches Out to Utility Leaders as Part of Ongoing #CallUtilitiesNow Campaign
Published on 11/17/2021
Urges Consumers and Utilities to Continue Working Together to Keep At-Risk Households Connected and Safe During the Winter
HARRISBURG – As part of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) ongoing #CallUtilitiesNow campaign, the Commissioners communicated with the CEOs of Pennsylvania’s major public utilities to continue to underscore the importance of consumers, businesses and utilities continuing to work together during this unprecedented time.
“As Pennsylvania consumers, businesses, and public utilities move into another heating season, our state and country continue to face health and economic uncertainty,” the PUC letter notes. “The stress on our neighbors and our communities is further compounded by volatile energy prices and forecasts for colder weather.”
We reach out annually to you – our public utility leadership – to encourage your ongoing commitment to identify and assist consumers struggling with their energy bills. At the same time, the PUC also continues to encourage consumers to #CallUtilitiesNow to explore various utility assistance programs and other options to help manage their energy use and keep bills affordable.
Public utilities are the first and most direct mechanisms to link struggling households with much-needed assistance – whether those financial difficulties are related to the COVID pandemic, the ongoing state and national recovery or other challenging circumstances.
The PUC letter encourages utilities to continue their work in their communities:
- Urging income-qualified consumers to apply for programs designed to help make energy bills more affordable, including Customer Assistance Programs, Low-Income Usage Reduction Programs (LIURPs), the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and other available options.
- Reminding households that they may be eligible for enhanced assistance this year under the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or Hardship Funds.
- Exercising flexibility when establishing payment arrangement plans for all consumers, including consideration for circumstances such as lost or reduced income, extended illness of a household member or increased household size and accompanying expenses.
- Educating consumers about conservation and ways to reduce energy usage.
- And increasing support and fundraising for utility Hardship Funds and other local programs that assist consumers who need help paying their utility bills.
Last year, Pennsylvania utility customers provided approximately $362 million in funding for universal service programs, not counting LIHEAP. Collectively, these programs reach over 293,000 electric customers and approximately 167,000 natural gas customers, reducing monthly energy bills; promoting weatherization and other improvements to cut energy consumption; and supporting hardship programs.
In its CEO letter the Commission wrote that:
The PUC will continue strongly encouraging families to #CallUtilitiesNow to explore all the available options – and we appreciate the work you do answering those calls and connecting people to essential programs. Working together, we want to foster those important conversations between customers and utilities.
PUC Consumer Outreach & Education
The PUC’s #CallUtilitiesNow campaign is part of an ongoing effort by the PUC to educate consumers about the availability of income-qualified programs; increase consumer awareness of ways to reduce winter heating costs; educate consumers on energy conservation; encourage consumers to check electric and natural gas bills and supplier contracts; and inform customers about the PUC’s PAPowerSwitch.com and PAGasSwitch.com websites, as resources to shop for energy suppliers and learn more about efficiency and conservation measures.
The PUC consumer-educator team partners with various statewide community groups, state government agencies, legislators, human service providers, utility companies, community based organizations and many other partners to help educate, spread awareness and share many useful programs, tools and resources.
To schedule a virtual presentation or for more information, email the PUC’s consumer-education team at PA-PC-CMU_ConsumerEd@pa.gov.
About the PUC
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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