PUC Joins PA Department of Human Services to Kick Off Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Season
Authored By: Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
October 30, 2018
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today joined with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS), advocates for low-income residents and local utilities to mark the start of the application process for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for the 2018-19 winter heating season.
LIHEAP assists with home heating bills. Crisis and regular LIHEAP grants begin Nov. 1, 2018 and continue through April 12, 2019.
“LIHEAP is an important tool for helping Pennsylvania families stay warm and safe during the winter, and the PUC has a long history of supporting this important service,” said PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “Now is the time for consumers to enroll in LIHEAP and to explore other assistance programs available from their utilities and various non-profit groups. Combined, these many different resources help hundreds of thousands of households and families across the commonwealth every year.”
Detailed information about the LIHEAP program is available by visiting the LIHEAP section of the DHS website. Online applications can be completed by visiting www.compass.state.pa.us. Paper applications are available through local county assistance offices, or interested applicants can download and print an application from the department’s website.
“Everyone deserves a safe, warm home that helps them stay healthy and comfortable throughout the winter. LIHEAP helped to make this possible for more than 340,000 Pennsylvanians last year,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “That number includes thousands of the commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens - children, older Pennsylvanians, and individuals with a disability – helping them make ends meet as heating costs increase.”
In addition to making use of LIHEAP assistance, the PUC encourages consumers to contact their utilities for more information about various utility-operated Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs) that may be available.
“Every year, utilities across Pennsylvania spend about $385 million on customer assistance programs, not counting LIHEAP, including payment programs to reduce monthly energy bills; weatherization and other improvements to cut energy consumption; and hardship programs,” Chairman Brown noted. “Collectively, these utility programs reach more than 302,000 electric customers and over 150,000 natural gas customers across the state.”
The PUC’s Prepare Now campaign encourages consumers on limited or fixed incomes to call their utility about programs to help heat their homes or pay their energy bills such as CAPs and Low Income Usage Reduction Programs (LIURP). The PUC also appeals to the companies to increase efforts to educate consumers about other programs, such as LIHEAP. Additionally, consumers are encouraged to review their electric and natural gas bills and supplier contracts, while informing them about PAPowerSwitch.com and PAGasSwitch.com as resources to shop for energy services.
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.