Reading, PA – Winter heating bills are always a concern for low income families. This year however, difficult economic conditions combined with changes Pennsylvania has made in the federal heating assistance program have greatly increased the number of households who are struggling to pay their energy bills.
In response, UGI will implement a number of additional measures to help customers retain and/or restore utility service. These measures apply to UGI Gas Division, UGI Penn Natural Gas, UGI Central Penn Gas and UGI Electric Division.
While UGI has a number of programs to assist customers, the utility has reported to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) that an increased number of households served by UGI are entering the winter without heat. According to Vicki Ebner, vice president of operations, “While our programs to help low-income customers are robust and our policies for shutting off or reconnecting customers fully comply with existing regulations, these extraordinarily difficult times compel us to think creatively and go beyond the normal course of business to help those who are struggling.”
The additional steps UGI will take include:
• UGI will make an additional $50,000 corporate donation to Operation Share Fuel Fund. This program, which is funded by corporate, employee and customer donations, helps customers with good payment records who experience bill payment problems due to low income, unemployment, disability or the sudden death, illness or injury of the household’s main income provider.
• UGI will restore service to low-income customers whose past due balance as of December 15, 2009 is less than $500. UGI will contact all customers who are eligible.
In addition to the downturn in the economy, natural gas and electric utility customers thus far have reduced opportunities for energy assistance from the federally-funded Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) because of the delay in granting LIHEAP crisis grants by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW). However, DPW will make crisis grants available January 4, 2010, at which time additional energy assistance may be available for customers.
At any time of the year, UGI customers who have a problem paying their utility bill are encouraged to contact UGI promptly for information on available programs and services. UGI representatives are trained to work with customers who are making a sincere effort to pay their UGI bills and can offer solutions or referrals to appropriate agencies.
UGI Utilities’ headquarters is located in Reading, Pennsylvania. The utility serves natural gas and electric customers in eastern and central Pennsylvania. Additional information about UGI is available at www.ugi.com.