More Pennsylvania households left out in the cold this winter
More Pennsylvanians don't have heat for their homes for the winter season this year than last year, according to the annual Cold Weather Survey by the state Public Utility Commission.
About 23 percent more homes — from nearly 16,000 in 2012 to more than 19,600 this year — have gone into the winter season without heat provided by a utility, according to the PUC's Cold Weather Survey.
Here in the Alle-Kiski Valley, some providers have an expanding number of customers without heat from public utilities while one is cutting down on the number of those sites.
The PUC study is derived from information from the natural gas and electric providers who must, by state law, survey residential properties where service has been terminated and not reconnected during the course of the calendar year.
Because their service has been terminated, some homeowners use potentially unsafe heating sources and are counted separately because the home is not relying on a central-heating system.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, potentially unsafe sources of heat include kerosene heaters, kitchen stoves or ovens, electric space heaters, fireplaces and connecting extension cords to neighbors' homes.
An additional 1,628 residences are using potentially unsafe heating sources, bringing the total homes not using a central-heating system to just under 21,300, according to the 2013 survey. The total number was about 18,100 in 2012.
“We're thinking that many of those people whose services were cut might not be aware of the organizations out there to help maintain their level of service or to get their service turned back on,” said Jennifer Kocher, PUC press secretary.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, the Dollar Energy Fund and financial programs at the utilities can provide help with paying for home heating.
“Also at play here are the lingering effects of the economic downturn that has caused hardships for people who aren't used to facing the economic challenges out there,” Kocher said.
For West Penn Power, the number of customers without a utility heating due to termination of services has increased to 345 households in 2013, up from 259 in 2012.
“These are not the best of times, but we don't want people to go without electricity or heat,” said Todd Meyers, West Penn spokesman.
“We have 750,000 customers at West Penn Power, and I don't have a specific reason why the numbers are up,” he said.
“Other than the fact it has been a tough economic environment,” he said. “It's been difficult for some to find work. Then there's those who are under-employed. So it stands to reason that some people who have a difficult time paying their electric bills.”
The number of residents without service has declined for Peoples Natural Gas from a four-year average from 2008 to 2011 of about 900, to 712 in 2012 and 714 in 2013.
“We've reached out to people more trying to get them on payment plans and to get them some help,” said Barry Kukovich, spokesman for Peoples Natural Gas.
“We've been very active in promoting LIHEAP and maybe more people are becoming aware and getting funding.”
According to Kukovich, the company has run more promotions informing customers about financial help for paying utility bills.
“Part of the success is due to the fact that we're local and regional so we're doing a better job of getting the word out,” he said.
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pyrotechnics to be used in TV filming in New Kensington
- Man uninjured after leap from Hulton Bridge
- ‘Defective component’ shuts down part of new ATI Harrison plant
- Penn Hills teenager charged in New Kensington shooting
- Springdale suspect’s fate could depend on mental health assessment
- Neighbors of rundown Buffalo Township property complain to supervisors
- Springdale police chief receives long-awaited job description
- PennDOT puts final touches on Route 28 construction
- Allegheny Township neighbors take drilling dispute to court
- 2 injured in Upper Burrell head-on wreck
- Oakmont, Kiski Township election results finalized