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Archive: Mar 2020

Struggling to afford your utility bill? Explore these options.

Posted on: March 31, 2020

During this uncertain time, millions of families across the United States are facing unemployment and financial instability for the first time. Whether their financial stress is related to the COVID-19 crisis or other economic issues, Dollar Energy Fund is committed to remaining a resource for families in need. Our mission is more important now than at any other time in our 37 year history.

 

Contact Your Utility Company

This week, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PA PUC) is urging households across the state to explore the many options available to help keep their monthly utility bills affordable.

Utilities are committed to working with consumers to address these challenging circumstances – but they need to hear directly from families and businesses who are experiencing problems so they can begin those individual conversations about what resources and options are available.

Although the PUC has temporarily paused payment-related utility terminations, it is important for consumers to understand that any past due bills or delinquent balances that remain after the current public health emergency has passed will be handled according to the rules of the individual utilities and consistent with Commission policy. Under this moratorium, your utility usage will continue to be collected by your utility company and you will be responsible for charges associated with your usage. It is important to work directly with your utility company to get a plan in place if you need assistance now, but it will also minimize future financial challenges when the emergency has passed.

 

Here are some tips and assistance options for families experiencing financial difficulties:

  • Contact your utility company directly. Discuss your financial situation with your utilities before bills become delinquent. Many of our utility partners, along with their government oversight entities, are temporarily modifying their guidelines and policies to allow for leniency towards customers facing utility service terminations. If you did not qualify for CAP programs before, you may be eligible now. Your utility company will provide you with the latest information regarding how this situation effects their customers. Assistance options could include extended payment plans, budget billing, and hardship grants.
    • Paying your utility bill is still required. If you are able, pay your bill in full and on time to minimize the chance of a future termination notice and other financial challenges once the pandemic is over.
    • If you are unable to make your payment due to sudden loss of income related to COVID-19, please contact your utility company immediately.
    • If your income has recently been reduced, utility companies encourage you to make a payment of any amount during this time.
  • Apply for federal programs, such as LIHEAP. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program helps families living on low incomes pay their heating bills in the form of a cash grant. Households in immediate danger of being without heat can also qualify for crisis grants. View LIHEAP guidelines for your state here.
  • Explore energy conservation tips. More people are working remotely and spending their entire day at home. This can have a notable impact on your energy usage. Energy conservation and home weatherization should be a priority to keep utility bills affordable. Here are a few websites that can offer information and tips for saving energy:

 

Dollar Energy Fund

Dollar Energy Fund has taken steps to ensure our Hardship Program will continue, regardless of any concerns with limited staff resources or potential closures of our office. We have also initiated measures to ensure the continuity of the other services we provide, including enrollments in Customer Assistance Programs. Our organization is adjusting as we transition some of our employees to a work-from-home environment. Due to these changes, customers calling into our customer contact center may experience longer-than-normal wait times.

 

Ways to Help Your Neighbors in Need

With many facing uncertain financial situations, Dollar Energy Fund anticipates a significant increase in demand for our services in the coming months. If you are able to help, please consider making a contribution through our online donation portal or by adding a donation of one dollar or more to your monthly utility bill.

Statement on COVID-19

Posted on: March 18, 2020

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dollar Energy Fund is currently operating with limited staff resources and is adjusting to remote workforce arrangements, therefore, we anticipate longer than normal phone wait times for our customers. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

Our mission to improve the quality of life for households experiencing hardships by providing utility assistance and other services continues through this unprecedented time, and our goal is to remain as a resource for those who are struggling to afford basic utility service by offering our services to our neighbors in need.

With many facing uncertain financial situations, Dollar Energy Fund anticipates a significant increase in demand for our services in the coming months. If you are able to help, please consider making a contribution through our online donation portal or by adding a donation of one dollar or more to your monthly utility bill.

If you are currently without utility service, or if you have received a termination notice, please contact your utility company directly. Many of our utility partners, along with their government oversight entities, are temporarily modifying their guidelines and policies to allow for leniency towards customers facing utility service terminations. Your utility company will provide you with the latest information regarding how this situation effects their customers.

PENNSYLVANIA: PUC Prohibits Utility Terminations, Consistent with Governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency

Posted on: March 17, 2020

Below is a press release shared by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on March 13, 2020. To view Dollar Energy Fund’s statement on the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit www.dollarenergy.org/covid19. Please contact your utility company directly for the latest information regarding how this situation effects your account.

 

 

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille signed an emergency order prohibiting electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunication and steam utility terminations. The moratorium will remain in place for as long as the Proclamation of Disaster, issued by Gov. Tom Wolf on March 6 related to the Coronavirus, is in effect.

Under the unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, establishing a termination moratorium for utility services under the PUC’s jurisdiction is consistent with the Governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency and the requirements of the Public Utility Code. Under the order, terminations would be permitted in the event of a safety emergency.

“I believe that issuance of an emergency order is appropriate under the unique circumstances,” said the emergency order signed by Chairman Dutrieuille. “It is beyond argument that the provision of public utility service is necessary for the safety of the public. This is especially the case under the current challenges that resulted in the Proclamation of a pandemic emergency.”

Pursuant to the Commission’s regulations governing emergency relief, an emergency order will be issued only when there exists a clear and present danger to life or property or when the relief requested is uncontested and action is required prior to the next scheduled public meeting.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.

Visit the PUC’s website at www.puc.pa.gov for recent news releases and video of select proceedings.

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