January 27, 2017 – The Pittsburgh-based Dollar Energy Fund is the second largest source of energy assistance grants, following LIHEAP, in Pennsylvania. Dollar Energy provided 3,200 households in the state with almost $1.1 million in assistance from Oct. 1, 2016 to Jan. 1, 2017. That is an increase of about 3.5 percent from the previous year.
So far this heating season, the Dollar Energy has distributed almost $400,000 to nearly 1,200 households in Allegheny County, and $68,000 to 200 households in Westmoreland County. Butler County was given about $31,000 for 93 households, and $26,000 went to 71 households in Armstrong County.
The Dollar Energy Fund relies on donations from energy company customers and fundraisers. Many customers contribute by paying an extra dollar on their utility bills. In 2016, West Penn Power raised a total of $267,000, which helped 700 people pay their utility bills. Over 150,000 of that total came from West Penn Power customers, and $109,000 was donated by West Penn Power. During 2016, Columbia Gas raised $442,000, with the utility giving $300,000 and its customers donating $142,000. Duquesne Light donated $780,000, and its customers donated about $380,000, totaling $1.16 million.
Warm Weather Postpones Ice-House Event
Events like Pennsylvania’s annual fundraiser “Cool Down for Warmth,” help fund the Dollar Energy Fund. This year’s event was re-scheduled due to “unseasonably warm temperatures.”
The “Cool Down” event features a 20-by-40 foot house built out of ice blocks in downtown Pittsburgh’s Market Square. The ice house is intended to symbolize the life for families who need help heating their homes. This week’s temperatures in the high 40s and 50s with periods of rain posed a threat to destroy the ice house, so the event has been re-scheduled to January 31 and February 1. The event hopes to raise $250,000.
Through mid-January, LIHEAP has provided about$10 million in assistance to residents of Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler and Westmoreland counties. That’s a higher rate than last year, when the entire heating season totaled $16.2 million in assistance for the area.