Georgia PSC Provides Low-Income Energy Assistance
Low-income households in Georgia have gotten some relief on their electric and gas bills through recent actions of the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC).
On December 21, as part of its decision in a Georgia Power rate case, the PSC approved an increase in the utility's senior citizen discount to $14.00 per month from $10.50. The increase went into effect January 1. The PSC has mandated the discount since 1987 - major gas and electric utilities must waive their monthly service charge for customers age 65 or over, who own their homes, and earn less than $10,000 per year (the income limit was raised to $12,000 in 2001). As of 2003, around 55,000 seniors received the discount.
On November 2, the PSC unanimously approved the release of $3 million from the FY 2005 Universal Service Fund (USF) to help qualified low-income and senior citizens with their gas bills. The PSC also released $3.1 million in unallocated USF funds from FY 2004. The money was made available to the LIHEAP grantee, the Department of Human Resources, which disburses it through community action agencies across the state.
The USF was established by Georgia's original gas deregulation law and is funded through surcharges on large industrial users. Since 2001, the Commission has disbursed more than $21 million in assistance to low- income families and senior citizens to help pay winter natural gas bills.
Source: Georgia PSC