PUC approves changes to help Black Hills low-income customers

DENVER (Sept. 27, 2017) - — The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) today approved changes to Black Hills Electric’s low-income assistance program that will enable more customers to remain enrolled in the program this coming heating season.

The PUC approved an increase in the monthly low-income charge for Black Hills customers, which is used to pay for bill credits, arrearage forgiveness credits, and administrative costs of the low-income program. The charge for residential customers will increase from $.28 to $.31 a month, which is the maximum allowed by PUC rules. Other customer classes will see corresponding percentage increases. The changes will take effect Oct. 1.

This will result in increased collections of approximately $98,400 a year. Without the increase in funding, approximately 280 low-income program participants would have to be removed from the program on Oct. 1, consistent with new rules adopted by the PUC earlier this year. With the fee increase, Black Hills estimates that only approximately 175 program participants will have to be removed from the program.

The updated rules eliminated outdated sections and specifically provided clarification for the operation of low-income programs to ensure comparability across the state. One important change ensured that all program participants across the state are provided comparable assistance with past-due amounts (arrearage forgiveness) on their utility account once enrolled in the program. The rule modifications also required that all low-income programs offered by the utilities be based on “percentage of income” benefits. Thus, all eligible participants have comparable affordable amounts, but receive larger benefits when average utility bills are higher.

This resulted, in Black Hills’ case, in larger benefits provided to a smaller number of eligible low-income participants.

The PUC is a division of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).

__________

About PUC

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) serves the public interest by effectively regulating utilities and facilities so that the people of Colorado receive safe, reliable, and reasonably-priced services consistent with the economic, environmental and social values of our state.

About DORA

The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission. Visit www.dora.colorado.gov for more information or call 303-894-7855/toll free 1-800-886-7675.

Media contact:
Terry Bote
Public Utilities Commission
P: 303-894-2827