Consumer Services Division Programs and FAQ

Assistance Programs

Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) sign-ups open December 1, 2021

LIEAP is a federally-funded program that provides for a one-time vendor payment to help eligible households pay their heating bills.  Households including a person aged 60 or older or disabled persons receiving services through the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services are eligible to sign up for assistance from Dec. 1 – 31. All other households may apply from Jan. 1 – March 31 or until funds are exhausted.

Households that meet the following criteria may be eligible:

  • Have at least one U.S. citizen or non-citizen who meets the eligibility criteria.
  • Meet an income test.
  • Have reserves at or below $2,250.
  • Be responsible for its heating costs.

For more information, click here: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/social-services/energy-assistance/low-income-energy-assistance-lieap

To apply for assistance, click here

LIEAP is administered by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and is not associated with the Public Staff or the Utilities Commission.  If you have questions concerning LIEAP, please contact your local social services agency or the NC Division of Social Services.

Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP)

LIHWAP is a new federally funded program that provides emergency assistance to low-income households that pay a high proportion of household income for drinking water and water services.  This program is still being developed and for more information click here: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/social-services/energy-assistance/low-income-household-water-assistance-program-lihwap

Crisis Intervention Program (CIP)

The Crisis Intervention Program is a Federally funded program that assists individuals and families who are experiencing a heating or cooling related crisis.  For more information, click here: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/social-services/energy-assistance/low-income-energy-assistance/crisis-intervention-program

Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions Program (HOPE)

HOPE provides rent and utility assistance to low-income renters that are experiencing financial hardship due to the economic impacts of COVID-19.  For more information, click here:  https://www.rebuild.nc.gov/hope-program

Frequently Asked Questions about Complaints

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You will be contacted as soon as we obtain a resolution most cases are resolved within a 24-72 hours period or longer depending on the complexity of the complaint. The utility company's given 10 days to respond back to us.

When corresponding in writing: we will acknowledge receipt of your letter, within a week after we receive your written complaint.

In most cases, a letter and a copy of your complaint will be sent to the company or agent, requesting an explanation of its position. Telephone contact may be made to discuss the complaint, to ask questions, or to make specific requests.

After the company or agent responds, we will determine what further actions, if any, we will take.

You do not need to call. We will keep you informed. If you have additional information, put it in writing.

The Public Staff is an independent agency created in 1977 to review, investigate, and make appropriate recommendations to the North Carolina Utilities Commission with respect to the reasonableness of rates charged and adequacy of service provided by any public utility and with respect to the consistency with the public policy of assuring an energy supply adequate to protect the public health and safety. The public Staff shall intervene on behalf of the using and consuming public in all Commission proceedings affecting rates or service.

The Public Staff has jurisdiction over most electric, gas, water/sewer, water/sewer resellers, telephone companies. You may refer to the regulated utilities list on the NCUC website.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission does not have jurisdiction over municipal utility systems, electric or telephone membership corporationspropane gasinternet, cable television, cellular telephones, or DSL.

It is important that a consumer contact the utility company prior to contacting the Public Staff Consumer Services Division to request an extension or payment arrangement. We also recommend you contact a local agency that can assist you with funds for the utility bill. Once you have done the above, you may contact us.

Below are a few tips that will assist us in expediting this process. Please have this information ready for the analyst:

A. Account Number

B. Service Address

C. Payment due date (before disconnection takes place)

D. "Total Balance Due" amount

E. "Past Due Amount" that needs to be paid to avoid disconnection of service or to reconnect your service .

F. Provide analyst with the amount you can pay the utility company today.

G. And notify the analyst by when you can pay the balance or if you would prefer that the amount be broken up to a 6 month payment arrangement.

The Facilities Charge is a monthly fee that is not just for expenses related to the meter located at your house, but also includes other costs that do not vary with the amount of gas used. These costs include utility plant investment, operation and maintenance costs, administration and general costs, depreciation, administrative costs such as billing, and property taxes.

When rates are developed for all classes of customers (residential, commercial, and industrial), consideration is also given to those costs mentioned above that do not vary with consumption. Since these costs are incurred regardless of customer consumption, they are collected as a set fee even though a customer may have not used any gas in a particular month. These costs could be incorporated as a part of the per unit energy charge, but that would have a definite effect of increasing the energy charge. This would mean that when customers used natural gas their bill would be substantially higher in order to collect these approved costs. All regulated gas and electric utilities customers in North Carolina pay a monthly Facilities Charge and have done so for well over 20 years.

The Public Staff audits the books and records of the Company in an effort to present to the Commission an accurate presentation of these costs in the form of testimony and exhibits in a general rate proceeding. When the Commission determines that these costs are just and reasonable, the Company is authorized to collect them. The Public Staff reviews the facilities charges and determines their appropriateness by using a fully allocated cost-of-service study to aid in the approximate cost responsibility by class and also within certain classes.

The Commission and Public Staff strive to assign cost responsibility to the appropriate class of customers, including within class designations where practical and possible. In order for a company to remain a viable entity, it must first of all be in a position to cover its fixed costs, as well as having the ability to earn a reasonable return.

For a detailed description, please refer to the FCC website. If it's a telephone landline charge that is regulated by the state public service commission, please contact us.

Please refer to the NCUC website for a complete listing of the rules and regulations.

The Public Staff does not provide financial assistance to customers. 

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has limited funds to assist qualified consumers with paying their heating bills during the winter through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP). For more information, click here: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/low-income-services/low-income-energy-assistance

LIEAP is administered by and is not associated with the Public Staff or the Utilities Commission.  If you have questions concerning LIEAP, please contact your local social services agency or the NC Division of Social Services.