Tuesday, February 11, 2014

PUC Urges 13,928 Customers Without Heat To Act Now

With the end of winter nowhere in sight, the Public Utility Commission reminds the 13,298 consumers without use of a central heating system or using a potentially unsafe heating source in their homes to call about programs to help restore natural gas or electric service.
“Resources are available to help consumers restore and maintain service,” said PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson. “A colder winter and increased use of heating systems also means many people who have never struggled to pay their bills are struggling now. While utilities are not permitted to terminate service for utility customers with household incomes at or below 250 percent of the Federal poverty level during a period of time through March 31, as of April 1 forward, utilities can terminate customers for past due balances regardless of income, so we encourage customers having trouble making payments to contact their utility to set up a payment arrangement.”
The PUC encourages consumers without utility service to know their rights and responsibilities. Consumers should obtain information about programs available to help them restore and maintain utility service. Consumers with a seriously ill resident in the household or a protection from abuse order may have additional options for service restoration.
As of Feb. 3, 2014, the total number of homes not using a central heating system was 13,298, a 38 percent reduction from the Dec. 16, 2013, total of 21,281. The information is a follow up to the annual Cold Weather Survey results. Some households may be without both electric and natural gas service, resulting in a double counting of some households.
Consumers should call their utility first to make arrangements to pay their bill. If they are unable to reach an agreement with the utility, the PUC may be able to provide assistance. The PUC can be reached toll-free at 1-800-692-7380.
This winter marks the PUC’s eleventh “Prepare Now” campaign where the message is simple: “Prepare Now” for higher energy costs this winter. Learn about changes in the law related to utility terminations and reconnections and know your rights. Save money by learning how to conserve energy. Heat your home safely. Explore budget billing options.
Look into programs that help low-income customers restore and maintain service. Call the PUC at 1-800-692-7380 for more information.

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