Navigating Barriers and Finding Opportunities To Assist Low-Income Customers

August 27, 2017

WEF Resources & Efforts

This guide assesses the feasibility of rate-funded customer assistance programs in each state. Photo courtesy of Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This guide assesses the feasibility of rate-funded customer assistance programs in each state. Photo courtesy of Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Water and wastewater rates are rising as utilities address aging water infrastructure in the U.S. To assist low-income households with these increasing costs, the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) joined other water associations in releasing a guide that assesses the feasibility of rate-funded customer assistance programs (CAPs) in each state.

The guide, “Navigating Legal Pathways to Rate-Funded Customer Assistance Programs,” explores various legal frameworks that utilities must consider when seeking to use rate revenue to fund programs that assist low-income customers.  In addition to state-by-state summaries of legal barriers and opportunities, the guide describes nine utility-level case studies to highlight how CAPs were designed.

The Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill produced the guide. WEF, the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (Alexandria, Va.), Water Research Foundation (Denver), American Water Works Association (Denver), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (Washington, D.C.), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (Washington, D.C.), and National Association of Water Companies (Washington, D.C.) commissioned the guide.

“It’s widely recognized that water service is underpriced when compared to its value, but that is small consolation to a household that cannot afford basic needs,” said Adam Krantz, CEO of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, on behalf of all the project sponsors. “Water and wastewater utilities care about each household and want to provide assistance, and each state has its own legal framework that determines what programs are feasible. This new report is a helpful guide as utilities assess their options.”

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