In response to sharp increases in utility bills and an extremely cold winter in 1982-1983, the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) played a critical role to bring relief to consumers that would normally face disconnection for non-payment.
The OCC proposed a year-round payment plan that would ease reconnection of natural gas and electric service if disconnection should occur. By year’s end in 1983, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) adopted a Percentage of Income Payment Plan, or PIPP, to help consumers with gross incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines to pay for their natural gas or electric utility service.
The program is a payment arrangement for qualifying consumers who pay a percentage of their monthly household income to the utility company to retain the service provided. Consumers must apply for all eligible financial and weatherization assistance programs and must allow the utility company to obtain periodic verification of their income.
The OCC’s advocacy not only supported the PIPP program, which still exists today, but also led to more stringent record-keeping by utilities about the number of households they disconnect and simplified the requirements for consumers to have their service reconnected.
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