City neighborhod centers offer access to help with gas bills

As the winter season approaches, Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) is leveraging its partnership with Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA) Neighborhood Energy Centers (NECs) to help customers.

Through the partnership, Philadelphia customers are able to get more in-person locations with more convenient hours to apply for various PGW payment assistance programs, learn energy-saving tips to help lower monthly bills and participate in virtual counseling sessions. 

“PGW has enjoyed a partnership with the Energy Coordinating Agency for several years to assist residents and our customers with utility issues in the neighborhoods where they live,” said Nyisha Chapman, PGW’s Community Partnerships Manager, to AL DÍA. 

“ECA has strong relationships with many community organizations and provides valuable assistance at their convenient Neighborhood Energy Centers, where our PGW-trained energy counselors connect customers with access to the PGW support services they want and need,” she continued. 

Having operated across the Philadelphia area since 1984, NECs have been a critical lifeline for underserved and vulnerable communities.

Many of these NECs are hosted in partnership with trusted community organizations, such as Congreso de Latinos Unidos, New Kensington Community Development Corporation, Nicetown CDC, and Greater Philadelphia Asian Social Services (GPASS).

Julia Rivera, chief external affairs officer at Congreso, noted that NECs are “important resources to meet community members where they are and serve as a trusted resource.”

This is especially true as clients have struggled to keep up with rising costs of their bills.

“At Congreso, we offer bilingual and bicultural support to ensure that community members feel comfortable and understand the process fully,” added Rivera. “We have also seen that community members who may be undocumented are not always aware that they’re eligible for energy assistance and that they are more likely to apply and receive assistance with the support and guidance of a local agency or staff member that they trust.”

Once connected, ECAs can help customers access their account and see what programs may work best for them. 

One of the most prominent programs that help improve affordability for customers is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The federal program has been around since 1981 and allows households to receive up to $1,000 for their natural gas bills. 

To qualify, applicants must have a household income at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level.

The LIHEAP application period runs from Nov. 1, 2022 through April 28, 2023, and is provided on a first come, first-served basis. To learn more or see if you may qualify, click here.