The Seattle area just went through its coldest winter in 32 years. The cold weather, coupled with a recent rate increase and a Rate Stabilization Account surcharge, led to unusually high bills for many customers. If you are having trouble paying your City Light bill, there are programs that might help.
“Seattle City Light recognizes that folks who are struggling with finances often make difficult decisions about which bills to pay,” said Customer Care Manager Mat McCudden. “We have numerous options available to assist our most vulnerable customers.”
The first option for customers that need help is the Federal Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP offers assistance with paying bills along with budget counseling and weatherization services. Depending upon where you live, you can sign up for LIHEAP online or via phone.
City Light has instructions on how to sign up for LIHEAP here.
The City of Seattle also offers the Utility Discount Program (UDP) for income-qualified customers of Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities. In 2016, Mayor Ed Murray made changes to the program’s auto-enrollment that were projected to double enrolled households to 28,000 by 2018. That goal has been exceeded already, but tens of thousands of households that might be eligible have yet to enroll.
Customers enrolled in UDP receive 60 percent off their City Light bills, so if you need help check to see if you meet income requirements and enroll here.
City Light offers its own program for customers who have received an “Urgent” or “Shut-Off” notice on balances of $250 or more. The Emergency Low Income Assistance (ELIA) program offers up to $200 every 12 months for customers who make the minimum payment to avoid disconnection and payment arrangements for the balance.
To get more information or sign up for ELIA, call (206) 684-3688 or email SCL_InfoELIA@seattle.gov.
Finally, there is a program available for LIHEAP or ELIA participants that is funded by donations from City Light employees, customers and other supporters. Project Share takes donations and disburses the money to those in need. Last year, Project Share provided assistance to about 1,000 people. The average benefit for recipients was $250.
Project Share’s one-time emergency assistance grants can make a huge difference in the lives of your friends and neighbors. If you are financially stable, please consider making a donation here.
“At Seattle City Light, we want to keep your home warm and the lights on,” said McCudden. “Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need a little help.”