Record number receive utility bill-payment help
August 24, 2009 · 7:35 PM
A record number of Puget Sound Energy customers have received a record amount of assistance to pay their energy bills.
From October 2008 through July 2009, nearly 25,000 PSE households — a 28 percent increase over the previous record set last year — received assistance with their utility bill. Over the 10-month period, PSE customers received a record $26 million, a 37 percent increase from the previous year, in grants from the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, and from PSE’s Home Energy Lifeline Program, or HELP, in addition to bill-payment assistance through The Salvation Army Warm Home Fund.
“While these difficult times have created high demand among our customers for help with their energy bills, we are pleased that this past year’s increased funding of both LIHEAP and HELP made a difference by reaching more customers and having available funds stretch into the summer months,” said Suzanne Hanson, energy assistance program manager for PSE, which is headquartered in Bellevue.
Community action agencies serving residents in PSE’s 11-county Washington state service area this year granted approximately $14 million in LIHEAP and $12 million in HELP to qualified low-income customers.
Additionally, more than 3,500 PSE households needing emergency, short-term bill assistance during this past year’s winter heating months received grants from The Salvation Army Warm Home Fund. This year’s nearly $653,000 in donations, representing a 9 percent increase from last year, came from voluntary contributions from PSE customers and employees and included a $50,000 grant from PSE.
No ratepayer dollars fund PSE’s donations to the Warm Home Fund. Since its inception in 1982, the fund has helped more than 81,000 families where the utility provides electric and natural gas service.