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Public Service Commission


NEWS RELEASE


04/18/2007 Contact: 850-413-6482

FLORIDA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION AND DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES ANNOUNCE AUTOMATIC LIFELINE ENROLLMENT


TALLAHASSEE — Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman Lisa Polak Edgar and Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Bob Butterworth today joined Representative Juan Zapata, and other state leaders to announce the launch of automatic Lifeline enrollment. The PSC and DCF developed the process to better serve the number of low-income Floridians who can receive a monthly credit on their telephone bills.

“The Florida Public Service Commission is committed to increasing participation in the Lifeline program,” said Chairman Edgar.  “The new automatic process will enable more eligible consumers in Florida to receive assistance with their telephone needs.”

Under the federal Lifeline program, telephone consumers who participate in certain public assistance programs are entitled to receive a basic telephone service discount of at least $13.50 per month – or more than $160 per year – from the federal Universal Service Fund.  Currently, only about 12% of Florida households that are eligible to receive this federally funded discount are receiving it.

 Launched April 4, 2007, the new enrollment process encourages DCF customers applying online for other public assistance programs to sign up for Lifeline assistance. The applicant is required to respond during the DCF application process as to whether he or she is interested in receiving the Lifeline discount.  Certified DCF applications will be forwarded to the PSC on a weekly basis for processing with the customer’s telephone company.

"This partnership between the Department of Children and Families and the Florida Public Service Commission makes perfect sense,” said Secretary Butterworth. “Many of the people who apply for benefits through the Department struggle to make ends meet, even put food on the table.  You can imagine the difficulty of paying a monthly phone bill. The Lifeline program will provide low-income consumers with affordable telephone service and we’re proud to be part of it.”

Eligibility through the automatic enrollment procedure is determined by participation in one of the following programs:

         •  Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA)
         •  Food Stamps
         •  Medicaid

Consumers may also apply for Lifeline assistance through their phone companies by faxing or mailing an application available on the PSC website.  Last October, the PSC launched an automated online application on its website. This process allows consumers to enter their information and submit an application online, eliminating the need to print, fill out, and mail or fax a request for the benefit to their telephone company.

The PSC is committed to making sure that Florida’s consumers receive electric, natural gas, telephone, water and wastewater in a safe, affordable and reliable manner.  The PSC exercises regulatory authority over utilities in the three key areas of rate base/economic regulation, competitive market oversight and monitoring of safety, reliability and service.

For more information, visit www.floridapsc.com

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ADDITIONAL QUOTES

Governor Charlie Crist

“Florida’s most vulnerable citizens will benefit from this important partnership,” said Governor Crist.  “I applaud the Public Service Commission and Department of Children and Families for taking steps that will potentially help nearly a million more eligible households maintain basic telephone service.”

Representative Juan Zapata, (R) District 119

“The benefits of telecommunications competition and advanced technologies must be available and affordable for low income consumers,” said Representative Juan Zapata.  “I commend the Public Service Commission and Department of Children and Families for implementing procedures that will assist low-income Floridians maintain essential telephone service.

Lori Parham, Florida State Director, AARP

"On behalf of our 2.8 million Florida members, AARP congratulates our state leaders on finding a way to help thousands of eligible Floridians 50+ receive this important benefit," said AARP Florida State Director Lori Parham.  "Because Lifeline ensures that older Floridians can contact emergency services when needed, this program literally can be a lifeline for those 50+."

Charles J. Beck, Interim Chief, Office of Public Counsel

"This new enrollment process for Lifeline telephone service is an enormous leap forward toward making Lifeline service a reality for hundreds of thousands of Floridians.  I would like to thank the many people at the Public Service Commission and the Department of Children and Families who have worked so hard to make this happen."



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