Where to get help paying utility bills

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The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission requires utility companies to have programs in place to help low-income customers keep their utility service. Here are some resources:

Customer Assistance Programs -- Each utility has this program, which is an arrangement between the utility company and a low-income household having trouble paying utility bills. Customers make regular monthly payments, usually less than the current bill, to get continued utility service. Customers should contact their utility companies for information.

Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Program, or CARES -- Those who have unexpected life events, such as family emergencies, divorce, unemployment or medical issues, can contact their utility company for help with their utility bills.

Low-Income Usage Reduction Program, or LIURP -- Customers who meet low-income requirements can get help from their utility companies in lowering the amount of electricity or natural gas used each month. The utility company may provide home weatherization services.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP -- Administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, this program provides financial assistance and weatherization help to households that meet income requirements. Information: 1-800-692-7462.

Dollar Energy Fund -- This organization's hardship program provides assistance paying for utilities to customers who "fall through the cracks" of other programs or still have a need after other resources are exhausted. Households must meet certain requirements, including income level. Customers should contact their utility companies for more information or 412-431-2800.

Grants and low-interest loans for home weatherization -- These are available through ACTION Housing Inc. at 412-227-3700 and the Steel Valley Opportunities Industrial Center at 412-678-8622.

The Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging -- This agency provides space heaters to those without heat. 412-350-4234.


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