The Public Utility Commission Tuesday announced it will kick off its statewide annual PA “Be Utility Wise” events with the theme for this year’s campaign is “Who to Turn To” – focusing on increasing community awareness of essential utility assistance programs.
The PUC’s Be Utility Wise events will be held--
-- October 20: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Mohegan Sun, 1280 Highway 315, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702;
-- October 28: Johnstown, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, 450 Schoolhouse Rd., Johnstown, PA 15904;
-- October 31: Berks County, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., DoubleTree by Hilton, 701 Penn Street, Reading, PA 19601; and
-- November 15: Harrisburg, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Red Lion Inn, 4751 Lindle Rd., Harrisburg PA 17111.
“There are many resources available to help consumers in need, but many aren’t aware of them or don’t know how to access them,” said PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “We want Pennsylvanians who may be struggling to heat their homes or pay their utility bills to know that there are customer assistance programs available to help them.”
According to data compiled by the PUC, Pennsylvania utilities spent nearly $459 million on various customer assistance programs last year, not counting private assistance or the federal Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Every year, these programs helped reduce the monthly bills for more than 280,000 electric customers and over 160,000 natural gas customers across the state – and enrollment and annual spending for these programs has increased dramatically over the past decade.
Additionally, PUC-required assistance services also support programs to help low-income customers modernize their heating systems and reduce their energy consumption – making current and future utility bills more affordable.
Utilities, and their customers, also contribute several million dollars per year in hardship funds, assisting thousands of in-need families.
In addition to networking opportunities, the free “train-the-trainer” event will feature presentations from state agencies, local utility companies and other financial assistance programs in order to share ideas and services.
Presenters will discuss financial assistance programs for utility customers, career tools for job seekers, energy conservation and weatherization, protecting against utility scams and more.
This year’s Pittsburgh participants include the PUC, Columbia Gas of PA Inc., FirstEnergy, Peoples Gas Co., Pennsylvania American Water, Duquesne Light, Fayette County Community Action Agency Inc., Oakland Planning and Development Corporation, Northside Common Ministries, Advantage Credit Counseling Service Inc., Dollar Energy Fund, Conservation Consultants Inc., Department of Human Services, and Comcast.For more information on preparing for winter heating costs, visit the PUC’s Prepare Now webpage.