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NJ SHARES Launches Annual Fund Drive - Energy Fund Assists Working Class Households

Highstown, NJ — November 8, 1999 — New Jersey SHARES (Statewide Heating Assistance and Referral for Energy Services) will commence its annual fundraising drive during November and December, through an insert found in residential gas and electric bills. New Jersey SHARES is a non-profit statewide energy fund organized to provide assistance to energy customers in New Jersey who need temporary help paying their utility bills.

Energy customers throughout New Jersey can help the cause by making a tax-deductible donation of any amount to New Jersey SHARES through a contribution form enclosed in their November or December energy bill. The donor's entire contribution plus a matching donation from their utility will go to help those in need.

"New Jersey SHARES intends to help working people get back on their feet following a tragedy such as unemployment, medical crisis or family problem," said Larry Savitsky, Executive Director, NJ SHARES. "Anyone can experience a financial crisis and need help."

To qualify for NJ SHARES, a person or family must be facing a financial crisis and not be eligible for welfare. Recipients must also have a history of good-faith payments of their utility bills. Eligibility is determined by New Jersey SHARES' 38 local social service agencies. Upon approval, recipients may receive a one-time grant of $250 each for gas and/or electricity.

"NJ SHARES is New Jersey's first statewide energy fund. It helps alleviate the heavy burden of home energy costs for consumers whose income levels exclude them from public assistance programs, but who are experiencing a one-time emergency financial need. As such, the fund truly provides an important service, said Blossom Peretz, Esq., Director, Division of the Ratepayer Advocate.

According to Board of Public Utilities statistics, in 1997 151,000 New Jersey households were disconnected from their gas or electricity due to non-payment of their bills.

NJ SHARES was formed in 1998 by six of the state's major energy providers and non-profit organizations, including Conectiv, Elizabethtown Gas Co., GPU Energy, Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G), Rockland Electric, South Jersey Gas Co., AARP, Community Health Law Project, NJ Low Income Energy Network, Association for Children of New Jersey, New Jersey Community Action Association and The Salvation Army.

For more information on New Jersey SHARES, please contact Larry Savitsky, Executive Director, at 609-443-8818.

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