From time to time, customers may experience financial hardships and need assistance paying their energy bills. These hardships can put customers in a tough situation where they have to make tough choices between electricity and other basic human needs. AEP has several initiatives and resources that help customers manage their electricity bills and reduce their energy consumption, including energy efficiency programs, rebates and incentives, monthly payment plans and energy assistance grants and programs.
The funding available to support energy assistance programs comes from various sources, including the government, social service agencies and even customers in some cases. Income guidelines determine eligibility. The funding level of different programs can fluctuate from year to year based on several factors, including improvements in the economy that lessen demand for aid, increased or decreased government funding of energy assistance programs, and other contributions or grants awarded to support these programs.
Government-sponsored energy assistance programs provided approximately $63 million in federal and private energy assistance in 2017. In addition, there were more than 18,000 pledges totaling $3.7 million in energy assistance from our self-serve agency websites.
In early 2018, call volumes increased significantly as customers received their bills from heating their homes during extended cold spells at the beginning of the year. We anticipated this and increased our communications with customers about bill payment programs and other options for managing their high bills.
In response to customer need, Kentucky Power’s Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) will nearly double the number of low-income families who can be helped in 2018. An order from the Kentucky Public Service Commission increased customer contributions to the HEAP program from 15 cents to 30 cents a month. Kentucky Power will match the customer contributions dollar for dollar with shareholder funds. Together, the program will generate nearly $1 million this year to provide heating and cooling assistance to about 2,500 customers in the region. HEAP funds are distributed to customers who meet income requirements set by community action agencies.
In addition to federal and private energy assistance, the AEP Foundation also contributes financial support to help our customers meet basic energy needs. In early 2018, the AEP Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to assist low-income residents in Eastern Kentucky. The grant to Christian Appalachian Project will help fund the nonprofit’s Elder Housing and Family Housing programs. Both programs make home repairs or install weatherization measures to achieve safe, warm and dry living conditions for families and individuals who cannot afford repairs. The Christian Appalachian project currently has a waitlist of approximately 560 families in need.
AEP provides several options to help qualifying low-income customers reduce costs while keeping their homes comfortable and safe. Learn more about some of the many energy assistance programs offered across AEP’s service territory: