September 30, 2005
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Dominion is encouraging customers to consider budget payment plans, energy assistance programs, and energy conservation suggestions to help deal with significantly higher natural gas bills this winter.
Effective October 1, the average Dominion Peoples customer will experience a 22 percent increase in monthly bills because of higher natural gas cost rates filed today with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC). For the average residential customer, bills will increase about $26 per month because of the higher natural gas costs. The average residential customer is one who uses approximately 104 mcf (thousand cubic feet) of natural gas per year.
Under PUC regulations, Dominion passes on to its customers the cost it pays for natural gas. Dominion Peoples does not receive any profit from the natural gas it purchases for customers.
To help customers manage high winter heating bills, Dominion offers the Budget Billing Plan. This plan enables customers to level out winter heating bills over a 12-month period. Budget customers pay a pre-determined amount each month, based on natural gas costs and their own usage history. Dominion will review a customer’s budget amount periodically and alter the budget payment amount, if necessary. Customers must be current with their bills to be eligible. If customers are having difficulty meeting monthly payments, they are encouraged to contact Dominion for assistance on available payment arrangement options.
The company advises customers seeking the Budget Billing Plan to call its toll free number (1-800-764-0111) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays to receive prompt service. The call center traditionally experiences heavier-than-normal call volume on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Customers can also contact Dominion online through its Web site: www.dom.com.
Dominion offers many energy assistance programs. To apply for any of the following programs, contact Dominion Peoples toll-free at 1-800-400-WARM (9276).
Beginning October 3, the Dollar Energy Fund (DEF) provides assistance to income-eligible customers. Individuals may apply once per year for each utility and are not required to repay the grants. To be eligible for DEF grants, applicants must meet income guidelines, which are 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level or below. All grants are applied directly to the utility bill.
Beginning November 7, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides a credit that is applied to a customer’s heating bill. To qualify, a customer’s yearly gross household income can be up to $12,920 for one person, $17,321 for two people, and $21,722 for three. Applicants should add $4,401 for each additional person above three.
LIHEAP customers who are having heating-related emergencies such as no gas service, a broken furnace or house line in need of repair may also be eligible for a CRISIS grant.
The Customer Assistance Program (CAP) helps a customer maintain gas service by paying a percent of his/her total monthly household income before taxes. To qualify, a customer must meet the income guidelines and apply for LIHEAP.
For customers in need of home weatherization and conservation, Dominion Peoples offers the Low Income Usage Reduction Program (LIURP). This program is designed to help qualified customers make their residences warmer in the winter and to help control high utility bills.
The Medical Certification Program delays a shutoff or restores service to customers when it would be life threatening or especially dangerous to the health of a permanent member of a customer’s household. Medical certification forms are available by calling Dominion. The program allows customers to make payment arrangements, but it does not reduce the amount they owe.
Dominion offers numerous energy conservation tips through its Web site.
Dominion is one of the nation's largest producers of energy, with an energy portfolio of about 28,700 megawatts of generation, about 6 trillion cubic feet equivalent of proved natural gas reserves and 7,900 miles of natural gas transmission pipeline. Dominion also operates the nation's largest underground natural gas storage system with more than 965 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves retail energy customers in nine states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's Web site at www.dom.com.
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