Thursday, July 17, 2008
At a public hearing held by the Department of Public welfare, representatives from a number of energy companies, including Columbia Gas, Dominion Peoples, Duquesne Light and Equitable Gas testified that the DPW needed to amend their LIHEAP guidelines to better serve their clients. Complaints included DPW's insistence on extensive documentation to prove a financial need for the program and to demonstrate a household energy crisis. Speakers pointed out that the State Assembly had passed a law stipulating that a crisis is proven when a household receives a service termination notice, while the DPW continues to demand other proof as well. The energy companies also expressed dismay that the DPW had decided on short notice to end their crisis program on March 21st this year, despite the fact that they had 900 million dollars left in the fund and customers were still in need of aid. The utility companies and the nonprofit Dollar Energy requested that the crisis program be allowed to continue into April, and that LIHEAP begin service in October rather than November.