Dollar Energy Fund, Pennsylvania’s largest hardship fund, announced this week that the organization has reached the milestone of distributing $100 million in utility assistance grants during its 30-year history.
More than 350,000 limited-income households throughout eight states have been able to maintain or restore basic gas, electric and water utility service after receiving a grant from Dollar Energy Fund’s hardship programs.
“Dollar Energy Fund is grateful for the support of all the individual donors, businesses, foundations and utility partners who have made it possible for our organization to help a vast number of struggling families over the years,” says Cindy Datig, Dollar Energy Fund’s chief executive officer. “However, as we are celebrating the success of being there to provide assistance for so many, we recognize that the need for help is still an issue. We hope that the generosity of our supporters continues as we carry on our efforts to serve those who are the most at risk for experiencing a utility crisis.”
Since the Oct. 1, 2012, start date of its current program year, Dollar Energy Fund has helped more than 20,000 low-income families—11,160 of which reside in Pennsylvania—meet their basic utility needs by distributing more than $6 million in hardship grants.
Many who receive grants are employed, but their income doesn’t cover the rising costs of daily living expenses and monthly utility bills. Dollar Energy Fund is a fund of last resort for those who have either exhausted all other options or do not qualify for other assistance programs.
When the program started in 1983 to help Pennsylvania’s low-income utility customers, 1,218 families received a grant from a $397,000 funding pool.
The program expanded to serve households in West Virginia in 2008 and Ohio in 2009. Recently, assistance programs have been added in other states, including Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, Texas and Louisiana.
The organization currently partners with 28 utility companies to administer hardship programs.
Dollar Energy Fund is funded by public contributions that are matched dollar for dollar by partnering utility companies.
Utility customers are able to contribute a dollar or more to Dollar Energy Fund through their monthly utility bill.
Direct donations can also be made online at www.dollarenergyfund.org or by sending a check to Box 42329, Pittsburgh, PA 15203.
Every donation to Dollar Energy Fund’s Hardship Program is tax deductible and 100 percent of the contributions are used to assist low-income households.
Applications for grant funding during the current program year will be accepted at any of the organization’s network of over 450 Community Based Organizations through September 30, 2013, or until funds are depleted.
In Pennsylvania, a household is eligible for the program as a customer of most major utility companies if their income is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines, or up to $46,100 per year for a family of four.
For FirstEnergy customers, the guidelines extend to those with an income at or below 250 percent of the federal guidelines.
To qualify, households must have made a sincere effort of payment on their utility bill in the last 90 days and have a back balance.
Full eligibility guidelines and application instructions for utility customers throughout Dollar Energy Fund’s service territory can be found at www.dollarenergyfund.org.