The Pennsylvania Utility Law Project LIHEAP Manual is Available for Download

The Pennsylvania Utility Law Project (PULP) LIHEAP Manual for 2017-2018 is available to download.

LIHEAP Manual 2017-2018

 

From the authors:

We are pleased to provide you with the 2017-2018 electronic edition of The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Pennsylvania Advocates Manual. The manual is developed and produced by the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project (PULP) for use by members of
the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network and others who assist low-income individuals. We hope that you find it to be of value to you and the members of your staff. Please feel free to copy as needed, circulate, and maintain a copy in your reference library.

The updated 2017-2018 Manual is different from earlier editions circulated in prior years. Please replace any older version. This year’s edition reflects program changes, current forms, references, website links, as well as additional issues and advocacy suggestions. The footnotes contain citations to the 17-18 LIHEAP State Plan1 and relevant legal authority for your
reference. In the Appendices, you will find contact lists and resources to assist in your advocacy.

The different aspects and components of LIHEAP often change from year to year and can be confusing to advocates and applicants. Many eligible consumers do not apply, and those who do apply often receive less than their full potential benefits. We intend this Manual to be a working reference that aids understanding of and access to the benefits provided by Pennsylvania’s LIHEAP. We value and request your input regarding the success of the Manual in meeting your needs and welcome any suggestions for modification.

Public Utility Commission’s Cold Weather Survey Reports Too Many Pennsylvanians Still Without Heat

During the holidays, the Public Utility Commission released the results of its annual Cold Weather Survey. The report indicates that 22,025 households in Pennsylvania have entered winter without heat or are using an unsafe heating source.

While these numbers are improvements from last year, Patrick Cicero, Director of the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project (PULP) says that these numbers remain alarmingly high: Continue reading “Public Utility Commission’s Cold Weather Survey Reports Too Many Pennsylvanians Still Without Heat”

PULP Helps Protect CAP Consumers

On behalf of Pennsylvania Utility Law Project client, CAUSE-PA, PULP won a contested decision at the Public Utility Commission (PUC) in which the Commission recognized for the first time that protections were needed for low-income customers enrolled in PPL Electric Utilities’ customer assistance program (CAP), which provides reduced utility bills. PULP staff successfully advocated for protections that ensure that bills remain affordable for economically vulnerable customers and that the low-income programs remain viable.

PULP recognized that these protections were necessary because low-income CAP customers were being subjected to millions of dollars per year in unnecessary costs by unregulated electric generation suppliers. The PUC approved a proposal that would both provide necessary protections and allow low-income customers to save additional money. CAUSE-PA, as well as the State’s Office of Consumer Advocate, and the PUC’s own Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement advocated for the proposal.

While the matter is currently being reconsidered as a result of a request by the Retail Energy Supply Association, PULP staff are optimistic that the protections will remain. PULP’s Director, Patrick Cicero remarked,

“I am hopeful that the PUC will uphold its decision that PPL’s CAP customers need additional protection from unscrupulous contracts that charge excessive rates. Low-income households already experience energy poverty at staggering rates, and this crisis of unaffordability is unnecessarily exacerbated if economically fragile households are served by competitive energy suppliers at rates higher than those charged by the utility company. The protections approved by the PUC in its recent decision are appropriate steps in the right direction.”

PULP is currently working on this issue on behalf of CAUSE-PA with each of the major electric companies throughout the state. Read more about the protections in this article on the Morning Call.

Regional Housing Legal Services and the PA Utility Law Project are celebrating 20 years of working together to help Pennsylvanians. 

What You Need to Know: PA’s Winter Moratorium on Utility Shut Offs

December 1st marked the beginning of the winter moratorium on utility termination for low-income households served by regulated public utilities. From December 1st through March 31st, low-income households (those with household income at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Line – or 150% of Federal Poverty Line for Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) customers) who are customers of utilities regulated by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) cannot have their electricity or gas service turned off for non-payment unless the utility receives permission from the Public Utility Commission do to so. There are exceptions to this rule. For instance, a utility may still terminate a low-income household’s service during this time if there is suspected fraud, tampering with meters, or other public safety concerns.

It is important to note that the winter moratorium is NOT a winter reconnection. This means that households entering this period without service will continue to go without service until resolved. Also, the winter moratorium only applies to clients who are served by utilities regulated by the PUC. Low-income households who receive service from municipal, cooperative, or rural electric utilities can still be terminated during this period.

During this period, your legal aid and human service providers will likely continue to see households who are shut off or have been denied service. Remember that LIHEAP is open and can assist many of these households. This year, eligible households are entitled to a $500 crisis grant and a cash grant of at least $200 and as much as $1000 depending on household income, heating region, and main heating source. In addition to LIHEAP, all of the regulated utilities have universal service programs designed to help customers. Check out the PA Utility Law Project 2016 LIHEAP Manual for more information on the program.

The LIHEAP season is scheduled to end on March 31st, which coincides with the end of the winter moratorium. Households protected by the moratorium should be sure to apply for cash grants to assist with their heating costs as soon as possible, and before LIHEAP closes.

Contact PULP if you have additional questions about the Winter Moratorium. 

Heating Assistance is Available! Plus- LIHEAP Manual for Advocates

PULP LogoThe Low-Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) opened on November 1, 2016 and is expected to close March 31, 2017, subject to earlier or later closing depending on funding.

LIHEAP has 3 components:

  • LIHEAP Cash Grant: Pays at least $200 to help with a heating bill. This includes bills for electricity, gas, water, oil, propane, kerosene, or other fuel types.

– Supplemental Grant of up to $175 for “Vulnerable Households”
– $50 if household contains an individual age 60 or over;
– $50 if household contains an individual with a disability;
– $75 if household contains a child five and under.

  • LIHEAP Crisis Grant: Pays up to $500 to stop a shut-off of utility service, to get service turned back on, or to get fuel if a household is out of fuel or about to run out of fuel.
  • LIHEAP Crisis Weatherization: Help for home-heating emergency: broken furnace, broken windows, frozen pipes, little or no insulation, cracks or other damage to roofs.

Applications and more information are also available on the DHS LIHEAP homepage. If you are unsure about your eligibility for the program, the LIHEAP Benefit Table can provide assistance.

The Pennsylvania Utility Law Project (PULP) has published the latest edition of the 2016-2017 LIHEAP Advocates Manual PA, as well as a LIHEAP Fact Sheet, that provide a wealth of information for anyone interested in accessing LIHEAP. PULP encourages advocates to forward and copy as needed. Contact Patrick Cicero at pciceropulp@palegalaid.net for questions or to provide feedback.