Good Neighbors

Can't Pay Your Utility Bill? Don't Sit in the Dark

There's lots of help for people who are behind on their utility bills, threatened with shut off, or even without utility service. All you have to do is call and ask.

Did you see Marty's story on the Howatineck family from North Huntingdon who lived for 15 months with no electricity? That's right, they had no electricity for 15 months! That's them above, wearing miner's lights on their heads to get around their home in the dark. If you didn't watch the story

here's the link

-- you've gotta see how they managed to do it.

As for the "why" -- as in why did this happen -- Sparkt found out there's no reason why you and your family should end up in the same predicament the Howatinecks did. There's so much assistance available, but the key is: don't wait!

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission regulates utilities in the state, and they can also provide guidance to people who have lost service or are about to lose service. They have an overview on their website that details pretty much every program that's available in PA.

We learned that your utility should be your first phone call if you can't pay your bill. Our local utilities all have assistance programs that range from payment plans that spread out what you owe, to programs that forgive some utility debt and even allow you to pay only what you can afford each month. Click on your utility below to find out more specifics about their programs:

Duquesne Light's Payment Assistance Program

West Penn Power/Penn Power Assistance Service Program

Peoples' Gas Payment Assistance Program

Columbia Gas Assistance Programs

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP can also be a big help with paying your heating bill and avoiding shut off. It's funded by the federal government and administered by the state. It provides a one-time grant of up to $1000 (depending on your income, household size, type of heating, etc.) that's paid directly to your utility company.

The Dollar Energy Fund can help supplement or make up the difference if those programs don't completely cover your need. They can provide a one-time grant of up to $500 that goes directly to your utility to help keep your service from being terminated, or help get it restored if you've already been shut off. All you have to do is call.

Would you like to help your neighbors who are struggling to pay their utility bills? Dollar Energy Fund operates on contributions from individuals (check your bill for information on how to donate) which are matched dollar for dollar by the utility companies.

93% of those who are helped by Dollar Energy never ask for help from the organization again. Money you donate stays within your utilities' service areas, which means every dollar you donate goes to help someone in your neighborhood!

"We look at this as a hand up, not a hand out." Chad Quinn, Dollar Energy Fund CEO
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