You Might Be Eligible for Assistance With Your City Light Bill

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.”

Utility Discount Program Reaches Annual Goal of 2,500 New Participants

 

With more than 2,500 Utility Discount Program sign-ups this year, Seattle City Light has already met its annual goal for enrollment. But our mission is to provide the best customer experience of any utility in the nation, so we aren’t satisfied with simply meeting the goal. We’re still headed out into the community with sign-up events at community service centers, food banks, multifamily communities, and more. Good customer service makes sure people are signed up. Great customer service makes sure people know about other resources. The Utility Discount Program is a great place to start to keep your costs manageable. However, there are times when a little extra help is needed or you might not qualify for the discount. Try these resources:

  • The federal energy assistance program (LIHEAP) opens in November. If you need help paying your bill this winter, call the Energy Assistance Hotline at 800-348-7144. It’s open 24 hours a day,7 days a week.
     
  • If, after LIHEAP help, you are still behind more than $250 and get an URGENT or SHUT OFF notice, call City Light’s ELIA program at 206-684-3688.
     
  • If you still need help after LIHEAP and ELIA, or if you are ineligible for LIHEAP and ELIA, call about City Light’s Project Share funds 206-684-3000.
     
  • Interested in taking control over your energy use? Call the Seattle City Light Energy Advisors at 206-684-3800.
     
  • If you need some tips on how to manage your finances, the city has opened FREE Financial Empowerment Centers operated through Neighborhood House and available to anyone. Call 206-923-6555 to make an appointment.