Grants to Utilities for Residential Customer Arrearages

woman calculating monthly home expenses

In 2022, the legislature appropriated $100 million for public and private water, sewer, garbage, electric and natural gas utilities arrearages. The funding will be used by utilities to reduce residential customer arrearages accrued between March 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021. Only customers who have received help from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) and Low Income Household Water Assistance (LIWAP) programs or rate-payer-funded benefits are eligible to receive funding. Utilities have until May 27, 2022 to complete the sign-up for this new program.

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Public and private water, sewer, garbage, electric, and natural gas utilities

  • To participate in the program, utilities must provide information on the arrearage balances of low-income customers, including customers who received assistance LIHEAP, the low-income water assistance program, or ratepayer-funded assistance programs between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2022, as of March 31, 2022.

The legislature appropriated $100,000,000 and Commerce may take up to 1% or 1,000,000 to administer the program.

Eligible utilities will use these funds to address low-income customer arrearages compounded by the COVID-19 20 pandemic and the related economic downturn, accrued between March 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021.

Only customers that have received LIHEAP, LIWAP, or rate-payer-funded benefits are eligible to receive funding.

The funding formula is under development, but the legislature has provided guidance for Commerce:

  • Each participating utility’s proportion of the aggregate amount of arrearages among all participating utilities;
  • Whether the utility has leveraged other fund sources to reduce customer arrearages;
  • Utility service areas that are situated in locations experiencing disproportionate environmental health disparities; and
  • American community survey poverty data

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