News release from the Georgia Public Service Commission:
ATLANTA, December 13, 2011 – The Georgia Public Service Commission today clarified how eligible low income natural gas customers will receive assistance in paying their winter heating bills. Those natural gas consumers who are in Group 1 of the Regulated Provider will automatically receive the $160 credit on their natural gas bill in the December–January billing cycle. Group 1 customers of the Regulated Provider are those customers who have already been referred to the Regulated Provider through the Georgia Department of Human Services.
Low income senior citizens who currently receive the low income senior discount on their natural gas bill must call their natural gas marketer as soon as possible but not later than February 1, 2012 to receive the $160 credit.
To qualify for the low income senior discount, a low income senior citizen customer must be age 65 or older and have an annual income of less than $14,355. Customers who are eligible for the low income senior citizen discount, but have not yet signed up for it through their gas marketer, must do so prior to December 20, 2011, in order to be eligible for the $160 credit. The customer must then request the $160 credit from their marketer prior to February 1, 2012.
The Commission action today follows the December 6, 2011 Commission approval of the distribution of approximately $10 million to low income senior natural gas customers and low income customers in Group 1 with the Regulated Provider. The assistance will be distributed beginning with the December- January period as a one-time credit of up to $160 on customers' bills. The grants will be disbursed from the natural gas Universal Service Fund and only those customers in the Atlanta Gas Light Company distribution area are eligible. The USF is funded through contributions from large industrial customers and AGLC's capacity marketing partner, Sequent Energy.
Since the inception of the Universal Service Fund (USF), the Commission has approved the disbursement of $64.9 million in assistance for low income natural gas customers on the AGLC system. Additionally, the Commission has approved a total of $117.8 million in grants and refunds to all AGLC customers since 1998. The USF is a fund established under the Natural Gas Deregulation Act of 1997. The law authorizes the Commission to order disbursements from the USF to assist low income consumers in times of emergency as determined by the Commission.