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LIHEAP NETWORKER ISSUE #42

LIHEAP NETWORKER ISSUE #42
May 2002

Compiled by the LIHEAP Clearinghouse
(Note: The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, organizations, or program activities imply endorsement by the U.S. Government or compliance with HHS regulations).

ARTICLES INDEX
‘01 Leveraged Resources Top $1 Billion; Up 40 Percent Over 2000

Texas Launches Automatic Enrollment/Self-Certification for Low-Income Discount
Michigan Low-Income Energy Assistance Gets $27.4 Million State Boost
District of Columbia Releases $2.2 Million For Energy Assistance, Weatherization, Aggregation
Leveraging Program Proves To Be A Worthwhile Effort for Tribes
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Idaho Implement Innovative REACH Project
NLIEC/NFFN/NEADA June 23-27
NCAT Debuts Consumer-Focused Restructuring Website For Low-Income Energy in 2002

‘01 Leveraged Resources Top $1 Billion; Up 40 Percent Over 2000

Thirty-nine states, 29 tribes and one territory reported over $1.1 billion in leveraging activities conducted during FY 2001. This is the largest amount leveraged since the Leveraging Incentive Program began in 1990 and 40 percent more than the previous year's $685 million.

Two more states reported leveraging this year, while the number of tribes reporting remained about the same.

Utility-funded resources, totaling over $700 million, were double those reported last year and accounted for 61 percent of the total leveraged resources. The categories of utility resources (most of them mandated by state legislatures or utility commissions) were: rate discounts and credits, $537 million; deposit and fee waivers, $35 million; arrearage forgiveness, $28 million; and weatherization, $99 million. The breakdown of remaining resources included 29 percent from state and local resources, seven percent from church, community and fuel fund donations, and three percent from miscellaneous resources.

California reported the largest amount of leveraged resources, $223 million, over double the amount it reported last year. Ohio was second with $172 million, and Pennsylvania was third with $168 million in reported resources.

The amount leveraged for California’s utility-funded California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) was more than double the amount reported in FY 2000, with an approximate 60 percent increase in the number of households that received a CARE discount. Increased participation in CARE may be the result of new outreach initiatives by utilities, such as utilizing more community groups, targeting ethnic and non-English speaking neighborhoods, and extending assistance hotline hours. In addition, on June 7, 2001, the California Public Utility Commission raised the amount of the CARE discount from its historic level of 15 percent to 20 percent, and increased income eligibility levels from 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines to 175 percent for all regulated utilities.

Ohio's leveraged resources increased from almost $30 million reported in FY 2000 to almost $172 million for FY 2001. An increase in Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) amounts accounted for most of the increase. Originally, the PIPP had been funded by a PIPP rider, or ratepayer surcharge, on customers of Ohio’s regulated electric and gas utilities. Restructuring legislation converted the electric PIPP rider to a universal service rider (USF). Effective October 2000, ODOD’s Office of Community Services, the LIHEAP grantee, began to administer the PIPP portion of the USF funds.

Pennsylvania had the third highest reported leveraged funds, with just over $168 million, and included an increase of 36 percent in reported gas and electric utility Customer Assistance Program (CAP) funds, under which low-income customers pay their bill based on a percentage of income. After electric restructuring legislation passed in 1999, some electric utilities expanded their CAPs or started one for the first time. Enrollment in CAPs increased from 187,562 in FY 2000 to 316,574 in FY 2001.

Other top states reporting leveraged funds included New Jersey, Illinois and New York.

The Rosebud Sioux of South Dakota and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians reported the highest tribal leveraging at $343,520 and $203,099, respectively. The Cheyenne River Sioux of South Dakota and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Idaho were third and fourth highest in reported leveraged funds. Several tribes reported leveraging amounts that were larger than their regular LIHEAP funding, with the majority of resources coming from tribal government funds. The total leveraged amount of $2,140,309 by the tribes and the Northern Mariana Islands was the largest since the Leveraging Incentive Program began in 1991. See tribal leveraging article.

Leveraging History: FY 1991 - 2001

STATES

TRIBES/TERRITORIES

FY

Leveraging

Awards

# Participants

Leveraging

Awards

# Participants

Total Awards

1990-91

$403,973,635

$24,431,796

42

$161,410

$568,204

8

$25M

1991-92

$493,188,488

$23,663,576

44

$406,768

$1,136,424

19

$24.8M

1992-93

$566,771,983

$24,094,720

45

$537,265

$905,280

*24

$25M

1993-94

$623,055,518

$28,541,986

44

$589,484

$1,458,014

25

$30M

1994-95

$638,904,966

$15,961,246

43

$668,639

$913,754

26

$16.9M

1995-96

$574,618,350

$17,636,917

39

$760,884

$1,127,083

26

$18.8M

1996-97

$587,497,146

$17,671,364

39

$1,065,714

$1,078,637

*27

$18.8M

1997-98

$534,619,538

$19,606,616

33

$711,923

$1,018,384

23

$20.6M

1998-99

$619,689,057

$18,930,270

37

$1,497,735

$1,602,320

29

$20.5M

1999-00

$683,979,362

$19,166,115

37

$1,606,392

$1,458,885

*31

$20.6M

2000-01

$1,140,092,380

$19,003,357

39

$2,267,566

$1,621,643

*29

$20.6M

* Includes one territory

For additional details on leveraged resources and awards, see the LIHEAP Clearinghouse website at http://www.ncat.org/liheap/lvstate.htm and http://www.ncat.org/liheap/levtribe.htm



Texas Launches Automatic Enrollment/

Self-Certification for Low-Income Discount




In January 2002, Texas entered new and uncharted territory – automatic enrollment of low-income households in an electric discount program – through a complex process that has not been attempted by any other state. The discount program is applicable in the areas of Texas in which the electric market has been opened to competition – in general, the territories of the investor-owned electric utilities, but not those of the cooperatives and municipalities. An estimated 70 percent of the population has electric choice.

While the Low-Income Discount Administrator (LIDA) and the Public Utility Commission (PUC) are still fine-tuning the process of finding and enrolling eligible households, the first four months have resulted in the enrollment of over 470,000 households.

A System Benefits Fund (SBF) authorized by Texas’s 1999 electric restructuring legislation pays for the low-income electric rate discount, a low-income energy efficiency program, and a consumer education program, and also provides compensation to schools for tax revenue lost as a result of electric restructuring.

The SBF is financed by a non-bypassable fee of up to 65 cents per megawatt hour beginning January 1, 2002. It is expected to raise $97 million in 2002 for the low-income discount, $7 million for targeted energy efficiency programs, $12 million for customer education and $27 million for the school fund.

To be eligible for the electric discount program (called LITE-UP Texas or Low Income Telephone and Electric Utilities Program), low-income customers who live in areas with electric competition must have household incomes of less than 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, or be recipients of Food Stamps, TANF, Medicaid, Low-Income Medicare or SSI. (Note: LITE-UP Texas includes a low-income telephone discount; however, it is not funded through the SBF. Eventually, enrollment for the telephone and electric discount programs will be combined; this article is concerned only with electric discount enrollment.)

The automatic enrollment process is accomplished through a complex interplay among the following players:

  • the Texas Department of Human Services (TDHS), which has the database of people participating in the low-income programs;


  • NCS Pearson, a national company selected through a competitive bidding process to be the Low Income Discount Administrator (LIDA);


  • the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the organization responsible for operating the state’s transmission and customer registration systems;


  • the retail electric providers (REPs), the companies that supply Texans with electricity; and


  • the PUC, which manages the SBF and oversees the program.

The statute provided that eligible households participating in certain low-income programs be automatically enrolled in the discount program, or be allowed to enroll through alternative methods. To enroll customers who could not be identified under the automatic enrollment process, the PUC developed a self-certification form that can be filled out by customers and sent in for processing by the LIDA. Customers must certify on the form that they are within the program’s income guidelines.

Texas had little precedent for accomplishing automatic enrollment and self-certification. While some states with low-income utility discounts have automatic enrollment of some households - usually LIHEAP recipients - no state utilizes massive statewide automatic enrollment. (The only automatic enrollment example is a low-income telephone discount implemented by a telephone carrier in New York, from which Texas obtained some background information.) In California, utilities and telephone carriers use self-certification for low-income discounts, although not exclusively.

The following details each of the processes used in Texas:

Automatic Enrollment

Under a confidentiality agreement, TDHS provides the names and addresses of clients receiving food stamps and medical benefits to LIDA. LIDA then matches the TDHS data with a database of residential service addresses maintained by ERCOT. LIDA forwards address matches to the appropriate retail electric providers so they can apply the discount to the customer’s bill. If everything works the way it should, the customer sees the discount in about 60 days.

One of ERCOT's responsibilities is to track the name of the REP serving every meter on the system. This is accomplished through an Electric Service Identifier (ESI-ID), assigned to each residential meter. Names in the TDHS database that match a physical address in the ERCOT database are grouped according to which REP serves them, and made available in a file format to the REPs via a secure Internet site. REPs are required to process these files into their billing systems to provide the discount to the listed customers.

Self-Certification

A person who receives no benefits from a state agency, but qualifies under the income guidelines, may pick up an enrollment form, fill it out and send it to LIDA. The "Self-Certification Form of Eligibility for LITE-UP Texas" is available at: TDHS offices, utility payment centers, LIDA, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) – the LIHEAP grantee, or at the PUC’s website. LIDA also has a toll-free information number (866-4-LITEUP). As of early April, the average monthly number of calls had been about 9,000 and about half of the callers requested the self-certification form.

The state LIHEAP office has a role in the self-certification process, according to Peggy Colvin, TDHCA’s Program Manager. Her office has had 41,000 copies of the form printed and distributed them among its 51 sub-grantees. Agency staff help LIHEAP clients fill out the forms and send them to LIDA.

The discount amounts to about $90 to $110 annually, depending on the customer’s electric usage. Once enrolled, customers receive the discount for 13 months from the date of enrollment. The continued eligibility status of the customer will be reviewed during the twelfth month after the date of initial enrollment and every 12 months thereafter. If a change in TDHS’ benefits causes anyone to get dropped from the program, she/he can re-apply through the self-certification process.

Automatic enrollment to date

As of early April, the PUC released statistics showing that the number of records created by LIDA and made available to the REPS for March 2002 was 418,122, including approximately 4,000 self-certified enrollees.

For April 2002, the number rose to 470,000, including about 9,000 self-certified enrollees. For automatic enrollment, LIDA had initially identified 623,000 unique addresses in the TDHS database in the areas with customer choice. The PUC estimated that about 30 percent of those were living in sub- or master-metered apartment complexes, shared-living arrangements or were homeless, and, thus, ineligible for the discount. The April match numbers should bring the automatic enrollment rate close to 100 percent, according to the PUC.

To locate the remaining eligible population, the Commission is stepping up its outreach efforts and has approved a mass mailing of over 200,000 applications to all TDHS clients who were not automatically matched and who live in areas with competition.

Low-income advocates are watching the processes with interest. "On the one hand," said Carol Biedrzycki of Texas Ratepayers' Organization to Save Energy, "we can’t find a more significant way to improve the delivery of benefits to low-income consumers than through automatic enrollment."

On the other hand, she said she would like to see the match rate higher than the March totals, and believes that the numbers will increase once problems with formatting and matching of addresses are resolved.

She said she also believes some half million households not in the TDHS database could be eligible and that aggressive outreach programs are needed to make the public aware of the self-certification process.

Randy Chapman of the Texas Legal Services Center believes the discount has not reached hundreds of thousands of eligible households. He has asked the PUC to explore options using REP rather than ERCOT data for performing the matches. For example, he said, the REPs have customer data such as social security numbers and phone numbers that could be used as alternate match variables.

"The more variables used to get the hits, the greater the number of matches. ERCOT doesn’t have all the variables, but the REPs do," he said. Chapman has also asked the PUC to make the discount retroactive to January 1, 2002.



Michigan Low-Income Energy Assistance

Gets $27.4 Million State Boost

In the first part of a three-part disbursement of Michigan's Low-Income Energy Efficiency (LIEE) fund, the state Public Service Commission (PSC) recently released $27.4 million in energy payment assistance funds for low-income households. The money will be distributed through the state Family Independence Agency (FIA), which is the LIHEAP grantee, the state's community action agencies and other non-profit groups. Most of it will augment LIHEAP payments.

On December 21, 2001, the PSC issued a Request for Proposals, asking interested agencies and groups to submit plans for disbursing the money and giving applicants a January 16, 2002 deadline. It also announced that it intended to use 75 percent of the 2002 fund for low-income programs.

Nine organizations submitted 10 proposals, totaling more than $40 million in grant requests. Sticking to its promise to put money for low-income energy assistance "on an accelerated track," the PSC awarded $27.4 million for low-income energy payment assistance in March 2002.

The lion's share of the grants -- $19 million -- was awarded to the FIA, which also administers the state's emergency energy payment assistance programs. About $12 million will be used for supplemental payments for low-income households that received a Home Heating Credit (or LIHEAP benefit) this year. The Home Heating Credit Program, administered by the state Treasury Department, disburses LIHEAP funds in the form of drafts for energy bill payments after applicants send in an energy assistance request form. According to Cherie Swain, Director of the Office of Program Coordination of FIA's State Emergency and Energy Relief, the FIA is using an interagency agreement with the Treasury Department to make the LIEE funds available for supplemental Home Heating Credits.

Michigan's 30 community action agencies received $6.1 million for emergency heat and electric assistance, including $3 million from FIA. It will be distributed to local CAAs as a two-for-one match for local Walk for Warmth fuel funds.

The remaining $5.3 million from the LIEE fund was awarded to:

  • The Salvation Army: $3 million to serve households statewide that are ineligible for assistance from the Family Independence Agency and households that need additional energy assistance.
  • The Heat and Warmth Fund: $2 million for the THAW Safety Net Program in southern Michigan.
  • Newaygo County Community Services: $45,675 to assist households in the county ineligible for assistance from the Family Independence Agency and households that need additional energy assistance.
  • Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency: $212,987 to provide assistance to households facing shut-off of energy services.
  • Leslie Outreach, Inc: $34,109 to provide assistance to households in the Leslie, Stockbridge and Dansville school districts.

The monies must be used by the end of September 2002.

Michigan's 2000 restructuring law created the LIEE fund as part of securitization -- bonds that customers pay off on their bills to allow the state's two largest electric utilities, Detroit Edison and Consumers Energy, to cover their stranded costs. The LIEE Fund is designed to provide energy payment assistance and fund energy efficiency programs. The payment assistance program supplements existing energy programs by increasing the level of assistance and serving more clients, including some who are not eligible under current guidelines.

The PSC decided to address the low-income energy assistance portion of the program before it tackled energy efficiency programs, low-income weatherization programs, and renewable energy programs, because of the importance of payment assistance during the heating season. In addition, it was relatively easy for the Commission to develop a request-for-proposal process since there are already well-developed programs for low-income payment assistance in Michigan. Energy efficiency programs require much more technical evaluation.


District of Columbia Releases $2.2 Million For

Energy Assistance, Weatherization, Aggregation

strict of Columbia has begun using money made available by its electric restructuring legislation to 1) expand the Residential Aid Discount (RAD) benefits program for low-income electric customers; 2) weatherize low-income households; and 3) create a program to aggregate low-income consumers for cheaper energy rates.

DC's 2000 "Retail Electric Competition and Consumer Protection Act" created a Reliable Energy Trust Fund (RETF). The DC Public Service Commission (PSC) recently released $2.2 million of the $8 million potentially available from the fund each year. In addition to current low-income programs, the PSC is considering how to allocate RETF monies among proposals ranging from additional weatherization measures to renewable energy projects.

Before RETF funding became available, the Residential Aid Discount was a utility program limited to homes with all-electric heat, with an average benefit of $6 a month. The RETF expanded the discount and the types of heating/cooling systems that can be covered. Since June 2000, all-electric homes have been eligible for a discount of up to $20 a month, up to a limit of $240 a year. Households that use electricity as a secondary source of heat can get a discount of $12 a month for the five summer months and $6 a month for the remaining seven months, up to a total of $102 a year. The new RAD programs' cost to date is about $848,000, according to the PSC, and it has served about 14,000 households; about 3,500 of these households have all-electric heat.

Households eligible for RAD can also participate in the RETF low-income weatherization program, which includes an in-home energy audit and some basic weatherization measures. According to Ralph McMillan, Chief of the DC Energy Office's Regulatory and Legislative Affairs Division, the RETF allowed the Energy Office, which administers the weatherization program, to expand the program from 450 to 900 homes. The program's budget is about $1.2 million.

Low-income energy customers who receive LIHEAP and/or RAD are also eligible for the RETF low-income aggregation program. McMillan said that the DC Energy Office is now seeking bids from two suppliers for both electricity and gas. If successful, the new program will restart a pilot project to aggregate low-income natural gas users that was halted after the gas supplier pulled out. If it can find a supplier that offers lower rates than PEPCO standard offer service, the Energy Office hopes to launch its aggregation program this fall. The program will work as an "opt-in" service -- that is, people will not be automatically enrolled for the service but can "opt in" if they want it.

The District of Columbia employs a distinctive tactic to reach low-income consumers who are eligible for RAD and other low-income assistance programs. Each October, the DC Office of Public Counsel joins with local energy companies to cosponsor Joint Utility Discount Day (JUDD), where people can apply for all of the utility discount programs -- electric, natural gas, water and telephone. Volunteers from the sponsoring utilities and government agencies accept applications for the discount rates through LIHEAP. More than 20 government agencies and non-profit organizations, including the Departments of Human Services and Employment Services, AARP, Catholic Charities, and Legal Services for the Elderly, hold a "mini-expo" at JUDD, where they introduce people to their services. About 5,000 consumers attended the event in October 2001 at the DC Convention Center.



Leveraging Program Proves To Be

A Worthwhile Effort for Tribes

Tribes report that leveraging non-federal resources to supplement regular LIHEAP allotments is a worthwhile endeavor. The tribes in general do very well under the leveraging program. In many cases, the leveraging incentive awards are larger than regular LIHEAP allotments.

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma reports $100,000 in leveraging funds each year. Funds originate from the tribal general fund and are generated as profits from tribal-owned enterprises such as travel plazas, smoke shops, off-track betting, bingo and a missile coding manufacturing business. According to Charlene Grunstad, LIHEAP coordinator for the Tribe, the travel plazas are very profitable; the Tribe owns nine plazas, and three more are currently under construction.

Tribal funds are used to supplement the regular LIHEAP program. "Because of tribal funds we are able to continue our program," Grunstad said. The funds are used for unmet needs of tribal members; anyone who is income-eligible receives a benefit. Last year the program was able to supplement regular benefits with an $80 benefit for seniors and for emergency aid after a severe ice storm hit the state.

The Choctaw Nation has an extensive outreach system, with a field office in every county in addition to other county offices. "Community health and social workers, who visit homes to identify need and help fill applications, are a valuable resource," Grunstad added.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota reported $343,520 in leveraging resources, by far the most reported by a tribe for FY 2001. Eileen Shot With Two Arrows, LIHEAP coordinator, reported that leveraged funds came from tribal casino revenue.

Even though the Tribe contracts with vendors for a propane discount every year, regular LIHEAP funds are exhausted before the need is met. South Dakota experienced a relatively mild winter until March, when cold weather and snow encompassed the state. Shot With Two Arrows is hoping to use the leveraging award to pay propane bills left from the winter. Almost all tribal households heat with propane.

In past years some of the leveraging award was spent on window air conditioners and box fans for summer cooling. The Tribe plans to use funds this year for the same cooling measures.

Two other South Dakota tribes, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux, have leveraged significant resources for several years. For the Sisseton-Wahpeton, tribal tax and gaming revenue are the source of leveraged funds and, for FY 2001, were three times more than reported in other years. According to Richard Keeble, LIHEAP coordinator, the increase in tribal leveraging funds last year was a response to the increase in need due to the high price of heating fuel and propane.

Leveraged funds and incentive awards are used to supplement regular LIHEAP payments. For the past two years, the Tribe has tried to give every eligible household a supplemental payment. Some funds are set aside for crisis, and some are used for heating assistance for the elderly in September, when the weather can be cool.

Pauline Eagle Chasing of the Cheyenne River Sioux said the Tribal Property and Supply fund spent over $100,000 in FY 2001 on home repairs, including door and window replacement, insulation and other weatherization measures. She has also obtained discounts from the local propane company for a number of years.

The Intertribal Council of Michigan is a nonprofit organization comprised of 12 tribes located all over the state. Six of these tribes report leveraging resources that are mainly from gaming profits. Other sources of revenue include tribal-owned stores and a golf course. Outreach workers from the six tribes apply for funds from the leveraging award. The Council then distributes the award money according to need and pays vendors for heating bills.

For more information on tribal leveraging, visit the LIHEAP Clearinghouse at href="http://www.ncat.org/liheap/levtribe.htm">http://www.ncat.org/liheap/levtribe.htm



Shoshone Bannock Tribes of Idaho

Implement Innovative REACH Project

The Shoshone-Bannock Tribe, of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation near Pocatello, Idaho, is ready to launch an innovative solar energy and energy conservation project after receiving a $150,000 REACH grant in FY 2001. According to Ron Fellows, Solar Technician, "The main goal is to lower energy consumption by 5-10 percent for families by using solar and wind power and energy conservation and education."

The 450,000-acre reservation supports a rural population of 3,200 people, some of whom have no electricity, heat with wood, or use propane for cooking and heating water. Households with utility service and businesses have felt the impact of electricity cost increases of as much as 60 percent last year. As a result, some businesses have had to lay off employees. This REACH project is designed to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, increase usage of renewable energy and promote self-reliance for the Tribe’s elderly and low income.

The Tribe's Community Access Program, which administers LIHEAP, is soliciting applications for the renewable power systems, and a selection committee is being formed. "We hope to reach every corner of the reservation through district meetings and postings in the local newspaper," said Fellows. Applicants must own their home or have a long-term lease. All applicants will receive energy conservation education and energy-saving light bulbs. Selected applicants will receive home weatherization and energy-efficient refrigerators from other funding sources.

Rural families that currently use generators or car batteries for electricity will receive a stand-alone renewable energy system. The stand-alone system costs between $10,000 and $12,000 and is a combination of photovoltaic (PV) panels and wind generation with a storage battery. The system is expected to produce 2.5 kWhs per day, and will provide power for a DC well water pump. After installation, the households will be monitored for one year and receive maintenance training and energy conservation education.

A pilot stand-alone system has been in place for one year at Fellows' home. He reports that there is a lot to learn about the system, and he is now familiar with some of the maintenance problems. "This is a learning process," said Fellows. Recipients need to work with the system to understand the dynamics of daily and annual energy use in order to implement energy-saving suggestions and avoid low batteries.

A stand-alone system will be installed by mid May at the project's workshop. This system will function as a test and educational opportunity for those interested and will eventually become the third stand-alone system installed for a family.

The second type of renewable energy system, a grid inter-tie or net metering, will be installed later for a selected families. A utility or grid inter-tie system interconnects with the utility electric grid and will cost about $4,000. This system will have 8-64 Watt PV panels installed on a south-facing roof or mast pole that tie into a 1.5 kWh inverter to transform DC into AC. During the day, excess energy production will slow down or reverse the meter. Conversely, when the PV system does not produce sufficient electricity, the utility can provide for the shortfall.

The Tribe plans to apply for another REACH grant to install solar heat systems.

For more information, contact Inez Redwoman, Project Coordinator, or Ron Fellows at (208) 478-3952.



NLIEC/NFFN/NEADA June 23-27

The leading national conference on low-income energy issues kicks off June 23 at the Marriott Harbor Beach Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This year’s theme is "The Next Wave: Shaping Our Energy Future."

The joint national conferences of the National Low Income Energy Consortium (NLIEC), the National Fuel Funds Network (NFFN) and the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA) begin with NFFN’s annual conference on Sunday and Monday June 23-24. NEADA’s annual meeting starts Sunday and runs through Monday. The NLIEC spans two-and-a-half days, June 25- 27.

The Honorable Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, has been invited to be the NLIEC keynote speaker on Tuesday morning.

Another highlight of the NLIEC will be "The Regulators’ Role in Serving Low-Income Consumers," a 90-minute plenary session Wednesday, June 26. Two public utility commissioners, a state utility consumer advocate, and a national low-income energy expert on low-income energy issues will share their visions of the role of regulators and what steps communities, states, and the nation should take to create the positive changes needed to ensure low-income households are included and protected.

Building on the success of last year’s workshops, which focused on international low-income energy issues, NLIEC will feature a series of workshops under an "International/Multicultural" track.

For more conference information, visit the NLIEC website or the href="http://www.nationalfuelfunds.org/">NFFN website



NCAT Debuts Consumer-Focused Restructuring

Website For Low-Income Energy in 2002

NCAT has launched a new website to showcase its National Energy Affordability and Accessibility Project (NEAAP).

The NEAAP website is a resource tool for residential energy consumers, policy makers and energy service providers interested in utility restructuring and its impacts on low- and moderate-income households. It has been designed to address questions from the following:

  • Residential consumers who want to know the status of energy restructuring in their states (both electricity and natural gas), and what consumer rights and protections are available to them;


  • Residential consumers who want to access programs in their states that will help make their energy bills more affordable and/or their homes more energy efficient;


  • Residential consumers trying to make sense of what’s happening with energy in their states, regardless of restructuring status;


  • Policy makers or energy providers wondering about the impacts of energy restructuring or energy market changes on the households they represent or serve.

The website has three components especially geared toward consumers: a state restructuring profile that features state-by-state overviews on the status of restructuring, customer choice, and consumer protections; a state energy programs profile that details programs for both low-income and non-low-income residential consumers, and a news and analysis section that monitors state restructuring developments that impact consumers.

Other features of the website are a "clickable" state restructuring map allowing users to quickly view their state’s restructuring status (both electricity and natural gas), a detailed listing of other helpful restructuring websites, and a glossary of restructuring terms. In the coming months, the website will feature an "online journal," that will include special in-depth studies, articles and analysis from national experts on restructuring.

NEAAP is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation.