FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 5/20/2013
Councilmember Mike O’Brien
City Council improves access to
low-income electricity rate assistance
Tenants in qualified low-income housing can now be automatically enrolled in
City Light’s Utility Discount Program
SEATTLE – Seattle City Council adopted electricity rate assistance legislation today to simplify access for low-income City Light customers. Seattle City Light will partner with low-income housing providers to get tenants into the program more quickly and with less hassle.
"The single best way for any City Light customers to manage their bills is to conserve energy. But we know that some customers are still struggling to make ends meet, and this legislation makes rate assistance more accessible for people who really need it," said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, sponsor of the legislation. "Many customers in low-income housing are eligible for utility rate assistance by the fact that they qualify for the type of housing they are in. This fix simplifies the process for the customer and the utility and will help get more people enrolled."
Seattle City Light’s Utility Discount Program reduces electricity rates by approximately 60% for eligible low-income customers. The legislation approved by Council allows the utility to use information from certain affordable housing providers to enroll eligible customers, rather than requiring those tenants to proactively apply for the discount. Simplifying the application process is expected to help enroll customers who were previously unaware of this benefit.
"With the City Council’s action today, City Light will streamline the application process for customers who are most in need, allowing them to apply for the rate discount program at the same time as they apply for affordable housing," City Light General Manager Jorge Carrasco said. "This is just one part of the major effort underway as part of our Strategic Plan to assist customers who are having difficulty with their bills. In addition to increasing enrollment in the rate discount program, we are also helping them better manage their energy use through home energy visits and other conservation measures."
Non-profit affordable housing groups must meet federal and / or state guidelines for low-income operations, each agency must enter into a signed agreement with Seattle City Light, and the program will undergo periodic audits.
City Light customers interested in applying for the Utility Discount Program can also do so here: www.seattle.gov/humanservices/benefits/udp.htm