PSE Seeks Slight Increase to Low-Income Program Charge
Request Covers Higher Costs for HELP, Effective Oct. 1 Average Monthly Residential Electric Bill Would Increase by 4 Cents; Natural Gas Bill by 3 Cents
BELLEVUE, Wash., September 09, 2010 - Puget Sound Energy last month filed a request with the Utilities and Transportation Commission to approve a slight increase to electric and natural gas rates to adjust for the costs of the utility’s low-income assistance program, effective Oct. 1.
The adjustment reflects the differences between the costs and the revenues collected over the past year to fund PSE’s Home Energy Lifeline Program, or HELP and a small increase in total funding. The request for the adjustment, filed on Aug. 31, would increase electric rates by an overall average of 0.004 percent, or 4/1000th of 1 percent, and natural gas rates by 0.03 percent, or 3/100th of 1 percent.
If approved by the UTC, a typical monthly electricity bill (based on 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity) would increase by 4 cents per month, bringing the total monthly average electric bill to $99.68. A typical household natural gas bill (based on 68 therms of natural gas) would increase by 3 cents per month, bringing the total monthly average bill to $81.35.
Established in 2002, PSE’s HELP fund, administered by 12 community action agencies serving residents in PSE’s 11-county Washington state service area, provides bill-payment assistance to more than 25,000 individuals and families each year.
Depending on income and household size, a qualified low-income customer can receive bill credits totaling up to $1,000 from PSE’s HELP. During the 2009-10 winter heating season, the average grant amounted to approximately $400 per household. Besides PSE’s HELP fund, home-heating assistance is available to eligible households under the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.
From October 2009 through July 2010, more than 59,000 qualified low-income PSE customers throughout the utility’s area received grants totaling nearly $25 million—$13.5 million in LIHEAP and $11.3 million in HELP.
The UTC is expected to review PSE’s proposed rate change on Sept. 30.
PSE has several programs available to low-income customers to help reduce natural gas or electricity bills and make homes more weatherproof. This assistance can help customers avoid having to choose between paying their utility bill and paying for other necessities such as food, rent, or medicine.
About Puget Sound Energy
Washington state’s oldest local energy utility, Puget Sound Energy serves more than 1 million electric customers and nearly 750,000 natural gas customers in 11 counties. A subsidiary of Puget Energy, PSE meets the energy needs of its growing customer base through incremental, cost-effective energy efficiency, procurement of sustainable energy resources, and far-sighted investment in the energy-delivery infrastructure. PSE employees are dedicated to providing great customer service and delivering energy that is safe, reliable, reasonably priced, and environmentally responsible. For more information, visit www.PSE.com.
Puget Sound Energy
Dorothy Bracken, 1-888-831-7250