Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission releases results of home energy burden study

Published on January 23, 2019 by Kevin Randolph

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The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) recently released a report on the results of a study of home energy burdens for low-income Pennsylvanians and opened a public comment period for interested parties.

The Commission voted 5-0 to issue the report, “Home Energy Affordability for Low-Income Customers in Pennsylvania,” which was prepared by Commission staff.

The study examined the “energy burden,” which refers to the percentage of household income dedicated to paying energy-related utility bills.

“The energy burden for low-income customers in Pennsylvania is higher than most comparable states,” Vice Chairman David W. Sweet said. “We now need to determine if there is sufficient funding for assistance programs and also whether there needs to be more efficient oversight of them.”

This report will help the commission to evaluate the effectiveness of customer assistance programs (CAPs) and other Universal Service programs that aim to help low-income consumers maintain essential utility services.

“There are questions that are yet to be answered before we can put forth a final recommendation,” Commissioner Andrew G. Place said. “I look forward to the continued engagement with stakeholders as we progress. This continues to be an important and complex undertaking, a task to which we remain committed.”

The commission also requested additional information from natural gas and electric utilities to be filed by Feb. 19, 2019. After that additional utility information has been filed, interested parties will have a 20-day period to submit written comments for consideration by the Commission and another 15 days for reply comments.

A Universal Service Reporting Working Group consisting of Commission staff, utilities and stakeholders will be created to address inconsistencies and limitations in utility data.

The commission will convene a stakeholder meeting on Feb. 6 in Harrisburg to allow interested parties to discuss the report with Commission staff.