FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Wednesday, March 9, 2022 HARRISBURG – Today, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Acting Consumer Advocate Patrick Cicero urged Pennsylvanians struggling to pay their utility bills to use available programs that can provide relief. They also called on the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services to use unspent funds for an extension of the annual LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) Crisis Season. “Energy prices are up this year and will likely keep rising,” said AG Shapiro. “I want Pennsylvanians to know that there is help available for everyone, and that we are going to do all we can to make sure that these resources remain available to Pennsylvanians over the spring and summer.” “I urge DHS to keep the LIHEAP program open for applications until August 31,” said Acting Consumer Advocate Cicero. “Pennsylvania has hundreds of millions of dollars of LIHEAP funding left, and no eligible Pennsylvanian in need should have their utilities shut off. There is help available. ” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of electricity in Pennsylvania is up approximately 9 percent, and the price of natural gas is up 20 percent. Pennsylvania also saw record high funding and usage for it’s LIHEAP program. In total, LIHEAP has provided more 322,000 cash grants and 53,000 crisis grants to Pennsylvanians who needed assistance heating their homes. Currently, the LIHEAP program is scheduled to close for this year on May 6, 2022. AG Shapiro and Acting Consumer Advocate Cicero have requested that the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services use remaining funds to keep the program open to new applications until August 31, 2022. In order to help keeps costs down for consumers, the Office of Attorney General and Office of Consumer Advocate have released the following tips and information to all consumers: Budget Billing Budget Billing programs are available to everyone at no cost. With Budget Billing, the utility company takes your total annual utility costs and divides that total evenly across all twelve months of the year. Hardship Funds Hardship Funds can provide you with cash assistance if you need help paying your utility bill or if you still have a critical need for assistance after other resources have been exhausted. Customer Assistance Programs (CAP) If you are having trouble paying your utilities, a Customer Assistance Program (CAP) can lower your monthly utility bills. Like LIHEAP, your income must be below 150% of the poverty level to qualify. CAP will calculate your bills based on a percentage of your income or on a discounted rate, and may forgive some outstanding debts. Low Income Usage Reduction Programs (LIURP) Low Income Usage Reduction Programs help you reduce the amount of energy you use and lower overall energy bills. If you qualify, you will receive an energy audit to determine your household’s energy use. You may then receive the installation of free energy conservation measures to help reduce your household’s energy consumption. Payment Agreements Households who are behind on their bills and may not be eligible for other assistance can get a payment agreement. Most households, regardless of income, are eligible for a payment agreement from both their utility and the Public Utility Commission. For consumers attempting to apply for LIHEAP grants, please be advised of the following: There are two ways to apply for LIHEAP: Online: Apply for benefits online using COMPASS, the online tool for Pennsylvanians to apply for health and human service programs and manage benefit information. On paper: You can download a paper application, print it, fill it out, and return it to your local county assistance office. Be prepared to provide the following information: Names of people in your household Dates of birth for all household members Income information for all household members for the month prior to application Proof of heating responsibility (utility bill, fuel receipt, lease showing that heat is included, etc.) Social Security Numbers or ITINs To apply for a Crisis Grant, you must also show proof that you face a home heating emergency (you are out of fuel, your home heating utility service is off, you are facing termination of your utility service, or you have broken heating equipment). For information on income qualification and additional eligibility requirements, visit: LIHEAP (pa.gov).
Contact your utility company to check or eligibility for assistance programs Call your electric and natural gas distribution company to learn more about company-specific assistance that may be available. For more information, consumers can contact OCA toll-free at 800-684-6560 or email@example.com, or visit the OCA website at www.oca.pa.gov.