Summer has arrived and along with rising temperatures come rising utility bills. The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) wants Floridians who are struggling to pay summer’s higher utility bills to know that help may be available.
“Higher fuel costs are impacting the bottom line for Floridians on everything from utility bills to groceries,” Chairman Matthew M. Carter II said. “Everyone is feeling the economic crunch, and many utility companies, as well as local charities, have programs available to assist residents.”
Utility customers experiencing financial hardship may contact their respective electric company and local charities to inquire about financial assistance for utility bills. Customers can also call the PSC’s consumer assistance line at 800-342-3552 for more information about programs in their area.
Following are some of the programs available from the federal government and from the five investor-owned utilities (IOUs) regulated by the PSC:
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal, statewide program to provide home energy assistance. LIHEAP assists households that have incomes below 150% of the federal poverty level and need assistance to pay their power bills.
Florida Power and Light’s program is called Care to Share. The program provides emergency assistance funds to customers who are in a crisis situation and unable to pay their electric bill. The funds are disbursed through local non-profit organizations.
Progress Energy Florida provides assistance through the Energy Neighbor Fund. The monies collected are distributed to needy customers through local aid agencies.
Tampa Electric Company offers a 62+ Plan. TECO’s program helps customers who are 62 years-of-age or older work out payment options.
Gulf Power provides emergency assistance to customers who need help with energy bills, repairs to heating and air-conditioning equipment, and other energy-related needs. The programs assist the elderly, the disabled, the sick, and others who are experiencing financial hardship.
Florida Public Utilities Company will, on a case-by-case basis, offer extended payment options. The company also refers customers to agencies that provide assistance.
At least 18 municipal and cooperative systems throughout the state also have emergency assistance programs.
The PSC is committed to making sure that Florida's consumers receive their electric, natural gas, telephone, water, and wastewater services in a safe, affordable, and reliable manner. The PSC exercises regulatory authority over utilities in the areas of rate base/economic regulation; competitive market oversight; and monitoring of safety, reliability, and service.
For additional information, visit www.floridapsc.com.