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PUC: Contact utilities if struggling to pay bills

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Monday urged consumers or businesses that may be struggling with larger winter utility bills or overdue balances to call their public utilities right away to explore all available assistance options — and to take advantage of enhanced winter options before those programs may change or end.

There are many assistance options currently available, but the arrival of spring — just weeks away — could bring changes or an end to some safeguards and may put some utility customers at risk of termination if they do not act soon.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the PUC adopted a series of enhanced consumer protections intended to safeguard families and small businesses who may be struggling financially. Additionally, utilities have various customer assistance programs for income-qualified households, and many major utilities also took other voluntary steps to keep residents and businesses connected during the winter. But those assistance options may change or end on March 31.

Call Your Utility Now

The best “first step” that any consumer can take right now is to call their public utility’s customer service hotline and ask for information about their customer assistance programs.

Each major utility has a team of representatives trained to help consumers explore the many options that may be available and connect those families with the necessary resources. If a consumer is unable to resolve an issue or obtain needed information from the utility, the consumer may contact the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services toll free at (800) 692-7380.

The Commission encourages consumers to take maximum advantage of assistance options — including payment plans, the waiver of late-payment charges and fees, and other affordability options that may not be available in the future.

Currently, all PUC-regulated public utilities in Pennsylvania are required to offer a series of enhanced consumer protections to “protected consumers” — those residential households hardest hit by the economic downturn triggered by COVID-19, along with aid for small businesses.

About the PUC

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.

Visit the PUC’s website at www.puc.pa.gov for recent news releases and video of select proceedings.

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