CARES program offers financial assistance to Cascade customers in need
Cascade Natural Gas on June 30 filed a request with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission to create the Cascade Arrearage Relief Energy Savings (CARES) Program, a new bill discount and arrearage management program, and to implement a new charge on customers’ bills to fund the CARES Program. The CARES program and its cost recovery mechanism are mandated by a law passed by the Washington legislature.
The program is funded by all Cascade customers as identified in a new line item on their bill. Cascade has requested an approval date of Aug. 1 and implementation date of Oct. 1.
Senate Bill 5295 requires enhancements to Washington utilities’ low-income bill assistance programs. The Clean Energy Transformation Act defines an affordable energy burden for natural gas and electricity as 6% of a customer’s household income. In compliance with Cascade’s last general rate case, wherein the WUTC directed Cascade to work with its Advisory Group to meet the legal requirements for a revised low-income bill assistance program, the Company and the Advisory Group developed the CARES Program.
The program strives to reduce participating customers’ bills to between a 3% to 3.5% energy burden, a conservative estimate for the natural gas portion of a customer’s affordable total energy burden. Cascade’s newly proposed CARES Program is the result of Washington law and WUTC direction, and was created in collaboration with the Advisory Group.
The new CARES program will replace the Company’s current WEAF bill assistance program, which will expire September 30, 2023. However, the WEAF Cost Recovery mechanism will continue to collect WEAF program costs through October 31, 2024, at which time the WEAF Cost Recovery Mechanism will terminate.
As a side note, Cascade’s CARES program is not related to the recently implemented WA Cares Fund related to long-term care.
The CARES Program is now open for assistance opportunities. Qualifying CNG customers may receive a discount on their monthly bill, plus help with past due balances, if needed. Click here to apply.