HARRISBURG – 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 2021-22 winter heating season. This year’s extended LIHEAP season opens Oct. 18, 2021, and continues through May 6, 2022.
The PUC also continues to encourage consumers to #CallUtilitiesNow to explore various utility assistance programs and other options to help manage their energy use and keep utility bills affordable during the coming winter.
“Working together, LIHEAP and various PUC-required utility assistance programs help hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania households stay connected, safe and warm,” said PUC Chair Gladys Brown Dutrieuille. “We strongly encourage families to apply for LIHEAP and #CallUtilitiesNow to explore all the available options.”
“LIHEAP helps some of the commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens – children, older Pennsylvanians, people with disabilities, and low-income families – make ends meet and keep their home safe through the winter,” said Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead. “I encourage anyone who may need help or anyone who has loved ones or neighbors who could benefit from this program, to apply for LIHEAP today.”
Pennsylvanians can apply for LIHEAP, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), and other public assistance programs online at www.compass.state.pa.us or by phone at 1-866-550-4355. On-site County Assistance Office (CAO) services are available if clients cannot access online services or need assistance that cannot be accessed through the COMPASS website, the myCOMPASS PA mobile app, or by calling the Customer Service Centers at 215-560-7226 for Philadelphia clients or 1-877-395-8930 for clients in all other counties.
Public Utility Customer Assistance Programs
In addition to making use of LIHEAP assistance, the PUC encourages consumers to contact their utilities for more information about various utility-operated Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs) that may be available.
“Last year, utilities across Pennsylvania spent approximately $362 million on universal service programs, not counting LIHEAP,” noted Chairman Dutrieuille. “Collectively, these utility programs reach over 293,000 electric customers and approximately 167,000 natural gas customers, reducing monthly energy bills; promoting weatherization and other improvements to cut energy consumption; and supporting hardship programs.”
The PUC emphasized that direct conversations between customers and utilities are the best “first step” for any Pennsylvania household or business struggling with utility bills – whether those financial difficulties are related to the COVID pandemic, the ongoing state and national recovery, or other challenging circumstances.
#CallUtilitiesNow is the best way to identify what help may be available to you, your family and your business. Also, be sure to call all your utilities: electric, natural gas, water, wastewater and telecommunications because each may have different programs or resources available.
Utilities understand the assistance programs available in their communities for income-qualified consumers – including utility-run Customer Assistance Programs, national programs like LIHEAP and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, and various hardship fund programs operated by utilities and non-profit organizations. Utilities also 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.