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NJ BPU Awards $25 Million for Temporary Assistance

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) recently awarded a grant of $25 million to the Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA) to fund a one-time utility bill assistance program called the Temporary Relief for Utility Expenses (TRUE) Program.

The TRUE program benefits homeowners and renters who are: New Jersey residents; not enrolled in or eligible for either the Board's Universal Service Fund (USF) program or LIHEAP; facing a crisis situation that includes a documented notice of overdue payment for gas and/or electric service; and have a past history of making regular payments toward their utility bills.

The AHA, with headquarters in Eatontown, N.J., will draw against the funding as needed over a two-year period, to make one-time assistance payments, up to a maximum of $1,500 per household, directly to utility companies on behalf of eligible customers. AHA will accept applications online, in person at its home office or its affiliate agencies, or by fax, mail or email.

The funding comes from the state's societal benefits charge (SBC), the majority of which helps the low income with utility bills through the USF. In January 2010, the New Jersey legislature passed a law appropriating $25 million from the SBC for the TRUE.  The law directed the BPU to grant the funds to a nonprofit organization to provide temporary energy assistance. In November 2010, the Board issued a solicitation from organizations to distribute the funds statewide.

Source: NJ BPU press release