Utilities help out low-income households
By John McMalcolm
While most Americans are able to pay their utility bills promptly, others are having trouble avoiding disconnection.
Fortunately, utility companies have programs in place to help low-income families and individuals, disabled people, senior citizens and struggling customers pay some or all of their utility bills.
Here are a number of utility companies in the United States that are offering help to those who cannot afford power.
Southern California Gas Co.
Income-qualified customers of Southern California Gas Co. can get help to pay their utility bills by enrolling in the federally-funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.
Program funds are distributed through certain local community-based organizations and government agencies. Southern California Gas Co. also offers the LIHEAP Weatherization Assistance Program, which can help customers reduce their utility bills by making their homes more energy-efficient.
Those who participate in this program can get reduced-cost or no-cost compact fluorescent lights, refrigerator replacement and other benefits.
Consolidated Edison in New York has a low-income plan that keeps its customers' utility charges at a pre-1996 level and waives the fee required for reconnecting utility service.
Low-income customers are also eligible for a $200 utility bill grant if they are able to comply with a deferred payment agreement.
Additionally, the company offers customers who are residing in the greater New York City area emergency cash assistance to help them pay current and past utility bills.
Florida Power and Light Co.
Through the Care to Share program, customers of Florida Power and Light Co. who are having financial problems can get up to $500 a year in financial assistance to pay their utility and cooling bills. They can sign up for this program at their local Salvation Army branches.
Florida Power and Light Co. also offers direct cash assistance programs, government-funded programs and other financial assistance programs.
Reliant is one of the utility companies in Texas that are offering the Lite-Up Texas program. This program enables low-income customers and people who are receiving Medicaid and food stamps to get discounts on their utility bills during summer.
Customers who are going through extreme hardship, such as illness, loss of income or death of a loved one, can get financial assistance from the utility company by enrolling in its CARE program.
Ameren in Illinois has several programs that provide financial assistance to customers who are struggling financially.
Its Hardship Assistance for Residential Customers program awards financial aid and cash grants of up to $600 to customers whose household incomes are up to 400 percent of the poverty level set by the federal government.
The utility also offers the Residential Bill Payment Assistance program, which gives low-income customers $300 grants to pay energy and heating bills, and the Warm Neighbors Cool Friends program, which helps customers pay their utility and heating bills.
All utility bill assistance programs have their own specific terms and conditions. Utility customers should read the program guidelines first before they enroll in any program.
About the Author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who provides useful tips on a wide range of subjects, from getting utility bill payment assistance to locating payroll outsourcing.
Trafigura and Yara International explore clean ammonia usage
Reducing shipping emissions is a vital component of the fight against global climate change, yet Greenhouse Gas emissions from the global maritime sector are increasing - and at odds with the IMO's strategy to cut absolute emissions by at least 50% by 2050.
How more than 70,000 ships can decrease their reliance on carbon-based sources is one of transport's most pressing decarbonisation challenges.
Yara and Trafigura intend to collaborate on initiatives that will establish themselves in the clean ammonia value chain. Under the MoU announced today, Trafigura and Yara intend to work together in the following areas:
- The supply of clean ammonia by Yara to Trafigura Group companies
- Exploration of joint R&D initiatives for clean ammonia application as a marine fuel
- Development of new clean ammonia assets including marine fuel infrastructure and market opportunities
Magnus Krogh Ankarstrand, President of Yara Clean Ammonia, said the agreement is a good example of cross-industry collaboration to develop and promote zero-emission fuel in the form of clean ammonia for the shipping industry. "Building clean ammonia value chains is critical to facilitate the transition to zero emission fuels by enabling the hydrogen economy – not least within trade and distribution where both Yara and Trafigura have leading capabilities. Demand and supply of clean ammonia need to be developed in tandem," he said.
There is a growing consensus that hydrogen-based fuels will ultimately be the shipping fuels of the future, but clear and comprehensive regulation is essential, according to Jose Maria Larocca, Executive Director and Co-Head of Oil Trading for Trafigura.
Ammonia has a number of properties that require "further investigation," according to Wartsila. "It ignites and burns poorly compared to other fuels and is toxic and corrosive, making safe handling and storage important. Burning ammonia could also lead to higher NOx emissions unless controlled either by aftertreatment or by optimising the combustion process," it notes.
Trafigura has co-sponsored the R&D of MAN Energy Solutions’ ammonia-fuelled engine for maritime vessels, has performed in-depth studies of transport fuels with reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and has published a white paper on the need for a global carbon levy for shipping fuels to be introduced by International Maritime Organization.
Oslo-based Yara produces roughly 8.5 million tonnes of ammonia annually and employs a fleet of 11 ammonia carriers, including 5 fully owned ships, and owns 18 marine ammonia terminals with 580 kt of storage capacity – enabling it to produce and deliver ammonia across the globe.
It recently established a new clean ammonia unit to capture growth opportunities in emission-free fuel for shipping and power, carbon-free fertilizer and ammonia for industrial applications.