Utility Bill Assistance



Utility bill grants from the Dollar Energy Fund.

The Dollar Energy Fund is a program that offers utility bill assistance to those who are facing a hardship. The program is providing heating and utility bill assistance grants year round. Low and moderate income households throughout the state can apply for assistance for paying their gas, electric, water and heating bills.

Thousands receive help every year. Last year the Dollar Energy Fund helped almost 15,000 households across the state restore or maintain utility service, said Cindy Datig, who is the fund's chief executive officer.

They partner with 14 utility companies across the eastern and northeaster US. They include Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and West Virginia. The unique program model they offer allows them to leverage the generosity of the community as well as corporations to maximize the support from both the utility companies and their customers. The 14 utility companies each match every donation made to the Hardship Program dollar for dollar and 100 percent of the money contributed remains in the state to provide utility assistance for those less fortunate and who can’t afford to pay their energy bills.

They have been operating since the early 1980s. Over this timeframe, the Dollar Energy Fund has helped hundreds of thousands of families either maintain or restore basic gas, electric and water utility service. They accomplish this by providing assistance grants that are applied directly to their utility bills. And they continue to have success, as indicated by the fact that last year they helped almost 15,000 households restore or maintain utility service. So while those households were helped, the assistance actually impacted more than 40,500 adults, seniors and children across the state who live in those houses. In addition, most of the families who were asking for help needed it for the first time due to unemployment or other issues that affected their household budget.

The program administered is known as the Hardship Program. The Dollar Fund organization is directly funded by public contributions that are matched dollar for dollar by utility and gas companies. The Dollar Energy Fund's success is built from companies helping neighbors and neighbors helping neighbors, and the hope is that those that can will continue to contribute and pitch in to assist people who have made a sincere effort to pay their utility bills but truly need some short term help to make it thru a difficult period.

The Dollar Energy Fund works thru a organization network made up of 160 Community Based Organizations across Pennsylvania. There are groups in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as well. They take Hardship Program applications year round. However applications are only taking until the funds in the program are depleted. There are some income limits, and a family of four earning up to $44,100 per year is income eligible for the program. In addition, the be able to qualify for assistance, a household needs to have made a sincere effort of payment on their utility bill in the last 90 days and have a back balance that is due as well.





By: Jon McNamara


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