Nearly $29M available to help PSE low-income customers pay bills
December 18, 2009 · 4:46 PM
Qualified Puget Sound Energy customers who need help paying their heating bills this winter will have access to a combined total of nearly $29 million in low-income assistance from PSE and federal funds distributed by local community service agencies.
PSE’s Home Energy Lifeline Program (HELP) will provide almost $15 million and the federal government’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will provide $14 million as a result of this week’s signing by President Obama of the omnibus spending bill.
“While we’ve been able to reduce natural gas rates nearly 18 percent this year, saving residential customers nearly $15 on their average monthly bill, we recognize that more families than ever are struggling through these challenging economic times,” said Bert Valdman, executive vice president and chief operating officer for PSE. “Our HELP program and LIHEAP are designed to help keep customers in need warm this winter.”
Since October, the agencies have administered PSE’s HELP program, which provides the utility’s low-income electric and natural gas customers with bill-payment assistance.
The release of LIHEAP funds is expected to provide Washington state with a total of $81 million in energy assistance, and enable community service agencies to begin accepting applications from qualified families for the federal grants.
Depending on income and household size, a qualified low-income recipient can receive up to $1,000 from PSE’s HELP and up to $1,000 in LIHEAP bill assistance.
For this heating season, similar to last year’s, the community agencies serving residents in PSE’s 11-county Washington state service area will receive $14.6 million through PSE’s HELP program and a $14 million appropriation from LIHEAP.
During the 2008-09 heating season, more than 30,000 PSE customers were assisted by PSE’s HELP and the federal LIHEAP programs.
Low-income families are urged to take advantage of the application process. “It’s important for low-income families to get an early start on preparing for the winter heating season bills,” said Valdman.
PSE customers needing contact information for the nearest community service agencies should call toll-free, 1-866-223-5425.