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PUC Reminds Electric, Natural Gas Utilities To Help Customers Prepare For Winter

As the winter months and winter heating bills quickly approach, the Public Utility Commission Friday reminded electric and natural gas utilities to take extra steps to help consumers – especially those on limited and fixed incomes – “Prepare Now” for winter heating costs.
           A letter, signed by all five PUC Commissioners, was sent to electric and natural gas utilities under the PUC’s jurisdiction asking the utilities to join the PUC in reaching out and educating consumers, especially those on limited and fixed incomes. The letter contained specific suggestions as to how the utilities can help. The utilities are asked to inform the PUC of any of the suggested actions they implement.
            The Commission’s focus for the ninth year of its “Prepare Now” outreach campaign is increasing consumer awareness on rising energy prices; exploring ways to reduce energy usage; educating consumers about the availability of low-income programs; and increasing awareness for safe home heating.
            “Winter months and winter heating bills are quickly approaching,” the letter said. “As a result of the nation’s economic status, many families are finding themselves in difficult financial positions and struggling as they face the routine costs of winter energy bills.”
            The letter encourages consumers on limited or fixed incomes to call their utility about programs to help heat their homes or pay their energy bills such as Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs) and Low Income Usage Reduction Programs (LIURP).
            It also appeals to the companies to increase efforts to educate consumers with limited or fixed incomes about special programs such as Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs), Low Income Usage Reduction Programs (LIURP) and budget billing, which assist consumers in paying their energy bills and controlling their energy usage. 
            The PUC’s message is simple: “Prepare Now” for higher energy costs this winter.  Learn about changes in the law related to utility shut-offs and know your rights.  Save money by learning how to conserve energy.  Heat your home safely.  Explore budget billing options. Look into programs that help low-income customers restore and maintain service.
            Visit the PUC's  "Prepare Now" webpage or call the PUC at 1-800-692-7380 for more information.
            The PUC has consumer outreach specialists who provide utility education and assistance to consumers. This team of consumer education specialists reaches out to consumers by traveling throughout the state conducting or participating in workshop events, free seminars, roundtable discussions and community fairs.
            During those events, plain language materials and literature designed to educate consumers about assistance programs and their rights are handed out. Materials include information on consumer rights in dealing with terminations and reconnections, available low-income programs and tips on how to “Prepare Now” for winter.


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