Customer Assistance Programs
Customer Assistance Programs (CAP) are required by state regulations and are established by utility companies to assist customers who are having problems making their payments, or are in need of emergency financial assistance to prevent service termination. If you are a CAP participant, you may not lose your assistance if you switch to another supplier depending on where you live. Currently, if you are in the Duquesne Light territory, you cannot switch to another supplier without jeopardizing your CAP eligibility.
The programs differ from one utility to the next. Some are more comprehensive than others. For instance, Allegheny Energy offers emergency grants through the $1 Energy Fund, payment plans for seniors, weatherization and usage reduction programs. FirstEnergy, on the other hand, only has an emergency payment plan (PIP). This is also true for their subsidiary in Pennsylvania, Penn Power. Duquesne Light offers services across the board, and has been held up as a model for its assistance to seniors and its comprehensive usage reduction program.
The gas companies have also put similar programs in place. Dominion East Ohio and Dominion Peoples offer a full spectrum of options in their payment assistance plans. Equitable Gas has payment plans as well as usage reduction options. Columbia Gas has a comprehensive offering of programs for seniors, low-income, payment troubled, and regular customers.
CITIZEN POWER has found the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Pennsylvania 2014-2015 Low-Income Energy Programs to have a user friendly and very comprehensive listing of all of the available utility offerings and the eligibility requirements. Click on the following link to go to this webpage: http://liheap.ncat.org/profiles/Penn.htm
DSIRE: Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency
DSIRE is the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Click on the following link to go to this webpage: http://www.dsireusa.org/