PUC and PA Department of Human Services Kick Off Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Season
PUC Encourages Families to Enroll in LIHEAP and #CallUtilitiesNow to Explore Utility Assistance Programs & Other Energy Affordability Options
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today joined with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) to mark the start of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for the 2023-24 winter heating season. This year’s LIHEAP season opened today, Nov. 1, 2023.
The PUC also encourages consumers to #CallUtilitiesNow to explore a wide variety of utility assistance programs and other affordability options to help manage energy use and keep utility bills affordable during the coming winter.
“Working in combination, the annual winter LIHEAP grants along with various PUC-required utility assistance programs help hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania households stay connected, safe and warm,” said PUC Chairman Stephen DeFrank. “We strongly encourage families to apply for LIHEAP and also #CallUtilitiesNow to discuss all the affordability options that are available.”
PUC Chairman DeFrank was joined today by Commission Vice Chair Kim Barrow and Commissioner Kathryn Zerfuss. Together, the three PUC commissioners emphasized direct conversations between customers and utilities are the best “first step” for any Pennsylvania household or business struggling with utility bills.
“Public utilities have a detailed knowledge of assistance programs for income-qualified consumers in the communities they serve,” noted PUC Vice Chair Kim Barrow. “Direct conversations between customers and utilities about affordability options can help quickly connect at-risk households with programs that can have a substantial and year-round impact on utility bills.”
Public Utility Customer Assistance Programs
The PUC encourages consumers to contact their utilities for more information about various utility-operated Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs) that may be available, in addition to LIHEAP assistance. Utilities also have information about other affordability options, including hardship fund programs operated by utilities and non-profit organizations and programs intended to help with energy conservation and efficiency.
“According to the PUC’s latest data, utilities across Pennsylvania spent approximately $567 million on universal service programs, not counting LIHEAP, which has a significant impact across Pennsylvania,” said PUC Commissioner Kathryn Zerfuss. “Collectively, these utility programs reach over 335,000 electric customers and approximately 168,000 natural gas customers, keeping monthly energy bills manageable; promoting weatherization; reducing energy consumption; and keeping people connected and safe.”
Utilities can help enroll consumers in assistance programs, guide them to other available resources and discuss new payment plan options to address overdue balances and help consumers move forward.
“Keeping your home warm during the coldest and darkest months of the year is a necessity, not a luxury. Every Pennsylvanian deserves the dignity and peace of mind of knowing that their heat will not be shut off this winter and they can keep themselves and their families safe and warm,” said Department of Human Services Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh. “LIHEAP helps many of our fellow Pennsylvanians make ends meet by providing cash or crisis grants directly to their utility or home heating fuel provider. If you or someone you know needs help or could benefit from this program, I encourage you to apply for LIHEAP today.”
Pennsylvanians can apply for LIHEAP and other public assistance programs online at dhs.pa.gov/COMPASS or by phone at 1-866-550-4355. Pennsylvanians do not need to know their own eligibility to apply for these programs. Those who have applied and were denied previously but have experienced a change in circumstances can reapply.
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.