EAP Testimony to House Consumer Affairs Committee on Electric and Natural Gas Utilities

Feb 7, 2013Testimony, Briefs, & Filings

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Fiscal Year 2013 Proposed State Plan

Testimony of
Terrance J. Fitzpatrick, President & CEO

Energy Association of Pennsylvania
July 12, 2012

Good morning. My name is Terry Fitzpatrick. I am the President and CEO of the Energy Association of Pennsylvania (“EAP” or “Association”), the trade organization representing the major electric and natural gas distribution utilities in the Commonwealth.1 EAP’s member utilities (each of which, by the way, contracts with the Commonwealth as an approved LIHEAP vendor) have a long-running history of helping their low-income customers with bill payment problems. In fact, EAP utilities spend over $400 million a year providing reduced rates, special payment plans, hardship funding and home weatherization services. Additionally, these members also help their customers access and leverage the utilityadministered programs with publicly- and privately-funded programs such as LIHEAP, Weatherization Assistance Program, Salvation Army, Dollar Energy, and local church organizations, to name a few.

EAP appreciate this opportunity to provide input on the Department of Public Welfare’s (“DPW” or “Department”) LIHEAP Proposed State Plan for Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2013. Like each of the entities appearing before you in the State Plan input process, EAP and its members share the common goal of assisting low-income customers in accessing energy assistance available here in Pennsylvania (“PA”). EAP continues to maintain that the best method for assuring that PA’s most vulnerable low-income families maintain utility service and keep the heat on during the winter months is to continue leveraging all sources of energy assistance so that taxpayer and ratepayer funds are managed effectively and equitably.

Communication and cooperation are key ingredients in developing state plans and navigating today’s complex policy issues. The optimal time to receive input from LIHEAP Advisory Committee (“LAC”) members on the upcoming fiscal year’s LIHEAP State Plan is before the plan is developed. The public input process, while necessary, is simply ineffective and too late to receive meaningful input from the LAC membership. To date we are hard-pressed to find even one example where a proposed State Plan, once released, was influenced or modified as a result of the public input process. EAP suggests that a more effective approach would be to set-aside time at the winter meeting of the LAC for staff to receive input from its collective advisory membership prior to finalizing the proposed State Plan.

Questions

Please direct any questions or requests for more information to Debra Kitner by email or phone at (717) 901-0609