Extension sought for Pa. families still waiting for home-heating aid

    A winter ban that’s kept power companies from shutting off the heat and electricity for low-income families who haven’t paid their bills will expire in a few days.

    A Philadelphia-based group trying to keep that ban in place.

    Even though it’s getting warmer, attorney Michael Froehlich says the offices responsible for approving and denying requests for aid with heating bills still need a big thaw.

    He says a state agency is dealing with a backlog of 57,000 applications for home energy-bill assistance from low-income families.

    “Even though they’ve done nothing wrong, the Department of Public Welfare has not been able to keep up with the processing of the applications,” said Froehlich of Community Legal Services, based in Philadelphia.

    A DPW spokeswoman says it’s not unusual for the agency to have a high number of pending applications at this time of year.

    The Community Legal Services is asking Pennsylvania’s top utilities regulator to make sure heat and electricity aren’t shut off for families who are still waiting to hear back about their aid requests.

    Companies will be able to shut off heat and electricity for delinquent customers starting April 1.

    A Public Utility Commission spokeswoman says the request is under review.

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