Georgia Watch is calling upon the Public Service Commission to disburse funds from the Universal Service Fund (USF) so the state can assist a greater number of cash-strapped natural gas customers struggling to keep their heat on through the ongoing severe weather conditions.
‘“At a time when temperatures are at an all-time low and people’s homes are in desperate need of heating, the PSC needs to act quickly and generously so that the most vulnerable Georgians aren’t left out in the cold,” Georgia Watch Consumer Energy Program director Clare McGuire said.Georgia Watch is requesting the PSC release $7 million from the Universal Service Fund, which as of December 2010 totaled approximately $30 million.
For Georgia Watch’s letter to the PSC, click here.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, is a federal program that was created to assist low-income households pay their heating bills. The Georgia Department of Human Services administers the federal LIHEAP program by disbursing funds to community action agencies throughout the state. Any funds that the PSC approves for disbursement from the USF are used to supplement the federal LIHEAP funds. By Georgia law, one of the primary purposes of the USF is to assist low-income residential consumers in times of emergency.
The current situation across the state is dire. Many community action agencies are reporting unprecedented demand and dwindling funds. Joyce Dorsey, CEO of the Fulton Atlanta Community Action Agency, has stated that recent demand for energy assistance is the worst she’s seen in 20 years.
LIHEAP funds are disbursed on a first-come, first-serve basis and available from November 1st to March 31st. To qualify, the natural gas service must be individually metered and in the customer’s name. Residents can apply for LIHEAP heating assistance at their local Community Action Agency. Residents must bring:
- Proof of income for all household members for the past 30 days
- Proof of Social Security number for each person in the household
- Your last month’s heating bill for the household
- Proof of citizenship or legal immigrant status