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                                                       PRINTER'S NO. 105



No. 76 Session of 2007


           FEBRUARY 12, 2007

                                     AN ACT

     1  Providing for home energy assistance to certain persons through
     2     payment of matching funds to the hardship funds of certain
     3     home energy providers and for powers and duties of the
     4     Department of Public Welfare.

     5     The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
     6  hereby enacts as follows:
     7  Section 1.  Short title.
     8     This act shall be known and may be cited as the Home Energy
     9  Assistance Act.
    10  Section 2.  Declaration of policy.
    11     The General Assembly finds and declares as follows:
    12         (1)  The Federal Government recognized the importance of
    13     aiding low-income families with heating their homes when it
    14     created the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program in
    15     1981.
    16         (2)  Other states have recognized the need to supplement
    17     these Federal funds for home heating energy assistance with
    18     state funds.

     1         (3)  The Commonwealth recognizes the importance of
     2     allocating State funds to aid families struggling with
     3     heating costs that do not fall within the guidelines of the
     4     Federal program.
     5         (4)  Heating oil and propane gas companies and public
     6     utilities that provide electricity and natural gas also
     7     recognize the need to contribute funds for energy assistance
     8     by their establishment of hardship funds.
     9  Section 3.  Definitions.
    10     The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
    11  have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
    12  context clearly indicates otherwise:
    13     "Average monthly degree day."  The average daily temperature
    14  for a given month.
    15     "Department."  The Department of Public Welfare of the
    16  Commonwealth.
    17     "Eligible ratepayer."  A ratepayer whose payment to a home
    18  energy provider for service is delinquent or has otherwise
    19  extenuating circumstances and whose income falls between 151%
    20  and 200% of the Federal poverty guidelines as reported by the
    21  Department of Health and Human Services.
    22     "Hardship fund."  Funds established by a home energy provider
    23  to provide cash assistance to those ratepayers who have
    24  exhausted all other resources for payment of electricity,
    25  heating oil, natural gas or propane gas bills.
    26     "Heating season."  The months of November, December, January,
    27  February and March, consecutively.
    28     "Home energy provider."  A heating oil or propane gas company
    29  or a public utility that provides electricity or natural gas to
    30  ratepayers in this Commonwealth.
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     1     "Ratepayer."  A person in whose name a residential service
     2  account is listed with a home energy provider and who is
     3  primarily responsible for payment of a bill rendered for
     4  service.
     5  Section 4.  Matching funds.
     6     (a)  Commonwealth share.--The department shall provide
     7  matching funds based upon the amount contributed by the
     8  stockholders, employees and ratepayers of home energy providers
     9  to their hardship funds as contained in the most recent data
    10  reported to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission or
    11  obtained otherwise.
    12     (b)  Distribution.--The department shall only distribute
    13  matching funds when the Statewide average monthly degree days in
    14  a heating season are 10% colder than the Statewide average
    15  monthly degree days for a heating season for the previous ten
    16  years as reported by the National Weather Service or obtained
    17  otherwise.
    18  Section 5.  Application procedure.
    19     (a)  Time for filing.--A home energy provider may apply for
    20  matching funds and must notify the department of its intent to
    21  do so during the period of January 1 to February 1.
    22     (b)  Contents of application.--The application shall be in
    23  such form as prescribed by the department and shall contain:
    24         (1)  The amount to be credited to the home energy
    25     provider into its hardship fund.
    26         (2)  Identification of a nonprofit entity that has agreed
    27     to evaluate the financial condition of ratepayers, with their
    28     consent, in order to assist the home energy provider with its
    29     determination of whether the ratepayers should receive credit
    30     through the hardship fund.
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     1         (3)  Such other information as required by the
     2     department.
     3  Section 6.  Distribution.
     4     Moneys appropriated to the department for purposes of section
     5  4 shall, upon certification by the department of qualified funds
     6  in a home energy provider's hardship fund, remit the matching
     7  funds to the home energy provider no later than April 1.
     8  Section 7.  Rules and regulations.
     9     The department may promulgate any rules and regulations it
    10  determines necessary for the administration of this act.
    11  Section 20.  Effective date.
    12     This act shall take effect in 60 days.

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