EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — Xcel Energy filed a request to create a new program to provide extra energy assistance to customers in need.
Xcel Energy submitted a request with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin on Monday to expand its current assistance program to lower-earning households. The company said the proposal came after months of talks and planning with the Citizens Utility Board.
The proposed program would increase the amount of income-qualified support by about $5 million annually, an estimated 50% increase. Xcel Energy said if this proposal is approved, it would be the first utility company in the state to offer a targeted assistance program.
Xcel Energy said it expects PSCW to approve the plan later this year, with hopes of implementing the new program before the 2023-24 heating season.
Xcel Energy said customers who already get assistance from the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program will be automatically enrolled in the potential program.
“Through this new program we are seeking to increase financial assistance to customers who are having the most difficulty paying their energy bills,” said Tyrel Zich, regional vice president of Xcel Energy-Wisconsin. “We know these are challenging economic times and we will continue to find ways to support our customers and communities.”
Xcel Energy has similar, targeted, income-qualified support programs in other states.
Xcel Energy said the program would aim “to lower eligible customer bills to no greater than 4% of their annual income for each service type — electric or natural gas — with a maximum reduction of $600 per year,” should the plan be approved.
Through the program, customers would gain additional support should they fall behind on paying their bills. Currently, Xcel Energy customers who are behind on payments are encouraged to contact the utility company for assistance options.
“Energy bills take up a large chunk of low-income customers’ household budgets, so CUB is glad to work with Xcel on this targeted approach to help those who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Tom Content, executive director for the CUB. “This innovative program marks a positive step forward in tackling energy burden in Wisconsin.”