Arizona Public Service wants to make sure all eligible low-income customers are participating in its energy discount programs.
The utility met last week with representatives of service agencies in the East Valley to ask for their help to get as many low-income customers as possible signed up for its Energy Support (E-3) Program.
The program provides an energy discount for customers who qualify as low income. It is a partnership in which customers are given a discount on their APS bill in exchange for doing what they can to keep their usage as low as possible.
“Any time we can touch these agencies and provide them information, they can in turn touch many of our customers who we hope will be directly impacted by the program,” said Angela Creedon, APS’s manager of community development in the East Valley. “The more communication we have with our customers, the better off we both are.”
Also geared toward lowincome customers are:
• The E-4 Program for lowincome residents who have a medical condition and have a required need for medical equipment, such as an oxygen tank, in their home.
• The Energy Wise Low-Income Weatherization Program, which provides funding for household weatherization, health and safety, and repair and replacement projects.
“Obviously with all the changes that are going on in energy prices and energy issues in the forefront, the whole idea about addressing affordable energy for this particular customer base is really critical,” said Jerry Mendoza, APS project manager. “It makes a difference working with the agencies that actually work with the customer base that we’re looking at, which is the low income.”
APS, for example, has partnered with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which helps low-income residents find affordable housing. HUD has paired E-3 sign-up with its low-income housing agreements, Mendoza said.
“If somebody comes in and needs low-income housing, they say ‘Have you heard about E-3, here’s a brochure,’ and they try to get them to sign up at that time,” he said. “Also, every year HUD recertifies their renters, and they’ve also incorporated our E-3 sign-up into that process.”
APS also is working with the Housing Authority of Maricopa County, which has integrated E-3 sign-up in their rental enrollment program, Mendoza said. The Salvation Army is another agency that provides E-3 sign-up.
Some low-income residents are afraid to sign up for E-3, thinking it will either reduce or eliminate other benefits they may receive, such as unemployment insurance and/or government assistance programs, he said.
“But when they talk with their caseworkers, or somebody with HUD or somebody from any of these organizations, there’s that personal contact and that makes a difference,” Mendoza said. “This is completely separate from (government assistance programs) and it gives them a little bit of a comfort level. So they sign up.”