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New Jersey Low Income Energy Network

Fuel Fund Task Force Final Report

Recommendations for a Statewide Energy Fund

New Jersey Crisis Assistance and Referral for Energy Services

Adopted: June 10, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS
     Introduction
     Executive Summary
     Need for a Statewide Energy Fund
     Structure
     Administering Agency Criteria
     Eligibility Criteria for Recipients
     Matching Credit Program
     Computer Component
     Conclusion
     Appendix: Minutes, Fuel Fund Task Force
INTRODUCTION
This report was developed through the efforts of New Jersey Low Income Energy Network's Fuel Fund Task Force. The Task Force was comprised of: Jim Dieterle Public Service Electric and Gas; Lawanda Gilbert, New Jersey Division of Ratepayer Advocate; Anna Procopio, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities; Pat Studnicky, United Way of Union County; and Michael Swayze, Chairperson of New Jersey LIEN. Begun in November, 1995, the Task Force collected information from numerous states besides New Jersey. Additionally, the National Fuel Funds Network and the LIHEAP Clearinghouse contributed important data. The group met a total of seven times at the offices of United Way of Union County. In its fifth year, the New Jersey Low Income Energy Networks mission is to act as advocates for low income energy consumers, to bring together diverse parties, to help actualize new ideas for assistance, and inform consumers, public officials, and elected officials of the growing energy problems and potential solutions for low income New Jersey residents. It is comprised of utilities, energy providers, social service agencies, state agencies, and other human service organizations and advocacy groups.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The New Jersey Low Income Energy Network recommends the creation of New Jersey CARES, to be known as New Jersey Crisis Assistance Referral for Energy Services, a nonprofit organization for the purpose of assisting energy consumers. It would operate year round, providing bill payment assistance through a network of local agencies and community groups. There is an urgent need for a statewide, year-round energy fund in New Jersey. Families with children, the elderly or the disabled who are not eligible for government assistance need an energy safety net. Through utility bill insert promotions, corporate donations and legislation to redirect final bill credits/unrefunded deposits to the fund, it is estimated over $1 million annually (after administrative costs) would be available to assist thousands of families in need each year. New Jersey CARES would act as an energy fund. Benefits would be available for all types of energy bills. The organization would promote a philosophy of public-private partnerships employing a holistic approach to problem solving through referrals to existing social programs. It would be registered with the New Jersey Secretary of State as a nonprofit corporation. Application would be made with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to obtain 501(c)(3) status. A broad-based, geographically balanced Board of Directors would set policy and assist in fundraising efforts. The organizational staff would, at inception, consist of an Executive Director and one assistant. The administrative funds needed to maintain the programs would be sought from the major utility companies. Efforts would be made to secure the financial support of oil companies too. Administrative costs would be minimized with the use of computer technology and electronic transfer of funds. Continuing decreases in government funding for energy assistance has increased the need for private sector initiatives. A statewide energy fund would tap into the wealth and generosity of New Jersey companies and citizens. As shown by the graph below, New Jersey has significant potential for increasing private sector energy assistance to families in need.


NEED FOR A STATEWIDE ENERGY FUND IN NEW JERSEY
A fuel fund is defined as: "A program which raises private and/or corporate dollars to help low-income households meet their energy needs." According to responses received to a 1994 survey conducted by the National Fuel Funds Network (NFFN), there are at least 286 fuel funds nationwide in 47 states and the District of Columbia. This is an increase of 144 fuel funds since the last survey was conducted in 1992, indicating there is a definite need for fuel funds nationwide. New Jersey's fuel funds are limited.

Presently, the only fuel funds in this state are being sponsored by three major utility companies: Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP &L) has the Project Helping Hand Program, Atlantic Electric Company (AEC) has the Good Neighbor Fund, and New Jersey Natural Gas Company (NJNGC) has the Gift of Warmth Fund. Orange and Rockland Company (O&R) has the Neighbor Fund but it is distributed predominantly to applicants outside of the state. South Jersey Gas Company (SJGC) offers a limited internal program called Tender Loving Care. Last year, JCP&L, AEC and NJNGC, through their programs, distributed approximately $400,000 in private sector benefits to their needy customers. In comparison, the neighboring states of Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania generate fuel dollars which exceed those distributed in New Jersey. Today's economy has constrained these company sponsored programs to reduce and, at times, even eliminate all of the funds. For example, prior to 1994, Atlantic Electric Company contributed $50,000 in seed money to their program but due to budget constraints, the company reduced the amount to $25,000. The New Jersey Natural Gas Company at one time contributed $50,000 in seed money but for several years has not been able to do so. The Elizabethtown Gas Company which sponsors the Share the Warmth Fund, did not have any funds for the 95-96 program due to major cutbacks.

Going back a few years, from 1983 through 1987, PSE&G sponsored the Project Volunteer for Energy Program, however, due to economic and demographic reasons, the program ceased to be funded. The Home Energy Assistance Program, is a federal program administered by the New Jersey Department of Human Services. The County Welfare Agencies act as the local administrative agencies responsible for accepting and processing program applications and to verify eligibility factors. This program which provides financial assistance to low income families has experienced a constant reduction in its funding over the last ten years. The Congress authorized a total of $2.1 billion in FY85 but was only disbursed $1.08 billion for the FY96. This is a 39% reduction in funds for the 95-96 program. Coupled with the funding reduction, the application deadline was shortened to February 1 (in comparison to last year when the deadline was February 28) giving fewer people a chance to apply for assistance.

A 1996 NEADA survey reported New Jersey's LIHEAP will serve an estimated 167,000 families including 51,000 elderly and 25,000 disabled. Unfortunately, the regular LIHEAP check for a family of three was reduced from $436 to $266. In February 1996, New Jersey received an additional $3,494,119 in Federal LIHEAP assistance which was used to fund an increase in emergency assistance. The traditional Home Energy Assistance applicant was a member of the low income class. Today, the program's clientele is changing. Due to the economic climate and the downsizing efforts of Corporate America, HEAP finds that many members of the middle class are also applying for assistance.

These working poor, non-entitlement eligible which never had to apply for an assistance may now be in need of immediate assistance due to the loss of employment. Data compiled by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU), Division of Customer Relations, indicates that in 1995, 124,105 households had their gas and/or electric service terminated. A number of these families have their service restored within 24 hours, however, a large number live without service for weeks and sometimes even months. These families, after being faced with the termination of service(s) seek assistance from utility sponsored programs, HEAP or social agencies such as the Salvation Army. Because of the increase in their utility bills due to the extreme cold weather (heating degree days were up 38%) and the reduction in available assistance, many people feel helpless. For example, a family of three will receive a HEAP benefit of $266 to be applied to an average outstanding balance of $800. In some instances, because of their poor payment record, the benefit amount of $266 will not avert a discontinuance of service or restore a termination.

On April 11, 1996, President Clinton authorized the disbursement of an additional $7 million to New Jersey. The President declared: "Millions of Americans across the country, including senior citizens and children, endured cold and prolonged winter weather and still suffer from its effects. These emergency funds will help ensure that families can pay their heating bills and prevent utility shut-offs that could endanger their lives." Emergency assistance can help prevent utility shut-offs which can lead to children and the elderly getting sick and can even prevent energy related tragedies. The New Jersey State Data Center prepared a report for New Jersey LIEN on the number of persons living below 150% of the poverty level.

The available data indicates there are over 943,000 individuals which fall within the range of income eligibility for energy assistance. The number of families receiving LIHEAP is 165,000 with 100,000 of those being automatic recipients e.g. AFDC or Food Stamps. With the average family consisting of 2.5 (individuals) which is estimated to be 400,000 it appears that more than 500,000 individuals who may be eligible for assistance are not receiving it. The Fuel Fund Task Force was recently formed to address the limited number of funding sources available to low income households as well as to the working poor non-entitlement eligible and to explore the feasibility of establishing a statewide energy fund in New Jersey. It is evident from the data compiled by the Task Force that New Jersey is in desperate need of a Statewide Energy Fund. It is also evident for this energy fund to succeed it must be a public/private partnership. The Board of Public Utilities and the electric and gas utilities are presently preparing for competition.

It is still unclear what the effects will be to the low income customer. In theory, competition benefits the consumer because it 1) lowers prices and 2) offers freedom of choice. A low income person which may not have money for essentials such as food and shelter, may not see the benefit in lower utility prices or the freedom to choose their own utility company. New Jersey needs a statewide energy fund to ensure that the low income customers are protected from the threat of termination of utility services. If we do not have adequate assistance programs for people in need, who will have the social responsibility for an energy related tragedy which will occur in the future?

STRUCTURE OF NON-PROFIT CORPORATION FOR STATEWIDE ENERGY FUND

A. BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The administration of a statewide fuel fund could be accomplished through the organization of a non-profit corporation, as a legal entity, separate and apart from the New Jersey Low Income Energy Network (NJ LIEN). However, the initial organization of the non-profit corporation would more than likely draw from the resources of NJ LIEN. For example, NJ LIEN would assist in organizing the Board of Directors for the non-profit corporation. Board membership should be broad enough to encompass all of the entities with an interest in such a venture and also provide representation from all areas of the state. It is recommended that the Board include representatives from the public and private sector, such as utility companies, fuel companies, social service agencies, private corporations, public agencies, and a consumer member. The function of the Board of Directors would fall into several areas, including:
ADMINISTRATIVE
The Board would be responsible for formulation and implementation of the policies of the Energy Fund, all legal activity and compliance with state laws. It would also be the outlet for public accountability, and provide reports and information on all activities of the Fund. The Board would select an executive/administrator responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Energy Fund.
PLANNING
The Board would develop both short and long term goals and objectives for the Fund, such as the targeted audience that the Fund will serve, and the amount of assistance it will provide. The Board must also determine how the funds will be allocated, i.e. whether on a geographic basis, etc. The Board will also select the officers of the Corporation. At a minimum, a President, Secretary and Treasurer must be named prior to the organization making an application for non-profit status with the state.
FINANCE
The Board will ensure that the Energy Fund has the necessary funds to carry out its mission. Board members may be relied upon to use contacts and connections to ensure that monetary and in-kind contributions are available.
COMMUNITY RELATIONS
The Board will represent the organization to the general public, and may meet with private and public entities, or use their personal contacts to promote understanding of the Energy Fund. PROGRAM The Board will ensure that the Energy Fund will be administered according to the policies and procedures which it will set forth. Although the day-to-day details of the management of the Energy Fund will not be the responsibility of the Board, individual Board members could serve in volunteer roles which involve the daily work of the Fund. The Board must also evaluate the effectiveness of the Fund.
ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
To enhance fundraising efforts, it is recommended that the Corporation to administer the Fund seek tax-exempt status on both the federal and state level. Benefits of organization organized as non-profit corporation: donors who contribute to the Fund will be able to deduct their gifts on their personal income tax returns. The Energy Fund could qualify for certain grants, thereby increasing funding. The Energy Fund could save valuable dollars by being exempt from property and income taxes. Board members would also be shielded by law from any personal liability stemming from the operation of the Fund.
PROCEDURES FOR SEEKING TAX EXEMPT STATUS
State procedures:
Choose name and confirm that it hasn't already been reserved with Secretary of State's office. File Certificate of Incorporation and supporting documentation with the Secretary of State. The filing must include the names of Board President, Treasurer and Secretary. The required annual report filing is $15.00.
Federal procedures (501(c)(3)) status:
File Internal Revenue Service forms with supporting documentation. It must include bylaws, setting forth procedures of operation. User fee required with application to receive Certification of Status from IRS. - Fee based on annual budget of organization: Under 10,000 = $150.00 $10,000 or more = $475.00

ADMINISTERING AGENCY CRITERIA
For an organization to be eligible for funding it must: be a non-profit or an agency of government have demonstrated the ability to provide utility assistance or like prevention services have an accounting system or an approved fiscal agent conduct an independent audit if receiving more than $25,000 or more from any and all sources practice nondiscrimination for private voluntary organizations, have a voluntary board; and be responsible for certifying in writing to the energy fund board that is has read, understands and agrees to abide by the cost eligibility and reporting standards and any other requirements made by the energy fund.

Organizations selected must: expend monies only on eligible costs follow client eligibility criteria determined by the energy fund maintain records according to guidelines set forth by the energy fund consult energy fund board or staff on matters requiring interpretation or clarification before expenditures are incurred provide services within intent of the program maintain proper documentation according to guidelines set forth by the energy fund work with the energy fund to clear up any compliance exceptions submit reports to the energy fund by due date(s) keep documentation on file for period of time specified by energy fund be subject to periodic monitoring as specified by energy fund .

Documentation Requirements:
Vendor originated bill or invoice from utility or dealer it must have date and name of customer both sides of any canceled check to verify the payment was made to and accepted by the vendor utility verification form recommended for tracking purposes ( see attached)
Cost Eligibility:
Utility must be in name of client requesting assistance payment is in arrears and all other resources have been exhausted payment is part of the arrearage (co-payment with other funds or client co-payment) payment may be made only once a year for each utility Reporting Standards: each organization must submit an interim report on expenditures at a time determined by the energy fund each organization must submit a final report with all required documentation attached SAMPLE ENERGY FUND VERIFICATION FORM Please complete this form for each payment to be made with energy funds.

Client Name: _______________________________________Date: ________________
Address: _______________________________________________________________
City: _________________________________ Zip Code: ____________________
SSN: _________________________________
Vendor: _______________________________ Vendor ID#: ________________________
Account #: _____________________________ Amount Paid: $_________________
Agency Name: __________________________________________
Caseworker: ___________________________________________
Memo:

NJ STATEWIDE ENERGY FUND ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR RECIPIENTS
Basic Eligibility Criteria families with children, the disabled or the elderly (over 65). a nonrecipient of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). a direct-payer for their electricity, gas service, oil or bulk fuel including but not limited to wood or coal a family who is either under threat of service discontinuance for nonpayment, has already lost their service, or is in imminent danger of being out of fuel due to lack of funds a family who has exhausted other means of assistance so that the energy fund is the avenue of last resort, i.e. need vs. income based a family who, because of their prior payment record, can either keep their service on or have it restored through an energy fund grant which does not exceed one third of their outstanding bill a family who has not received a prior energy fund grant in the past 12 months. (The energy fund would be year-round; not a heating fund only.) Note: Current fuel fund eligibility criteria employed by the various existing New Jersey utility fuel funds would not be impacted by the above criteria unless they chose to voluntarily conform.

MATCHING CREDIT PROGRAM
An innovative matching approach is being successfully employed by the Fuel Fund of Central Maryland. It is recommended for inclusion in the operation of a NJ Statewide Energy Fund. The process is as follows:

The family in need is a customer of a participating utility. In Maryland its usually Baltimore Gas and Electric although smaller utilities participate as well. (Oil/propane companies could participate if they chose to, but they don't in Maryland).
The fuel fund uses the Matching Credit feature when it is either out of funds or the family is a marginal recipient who ordinarily may not qualify for a grant. Examples: the household could need more than one third of their bill paid to obtain service restoration due to a prior broken payment agreements; the required payment to keep/restore service exceeds the one third maximum payment; etc.
The customer is told the fuel fund will match 50 cents on every $1 paid. The clients payment by itself may not have been enough to keep service on or get it restored. Clients can get third parties to donate payments which the fund then matches with the credits supplied by the utility. The utility donates matching credits to the fund at the beginning of the season. The fund can chose to use the credits to match its own grants on behalf of recipients, or to match customers' payments or a third party payments.
BGE presently donates $1,000,000 in credits annually although no funds actually change hands. They view the matching payments to their credits (each payment is double the donated credit) as bill payments they may not have seen otherwise. As for the credits they supply, they feel they probably wouldn't have seen cash payments for the credits they supply. Additional utility benefits: the meters keep running, hopefully with payment for future use; shut-off risks associated with the otherwise unresolvable payment situations are avoided.

COMPUTER COMPONENT FOR STATEWIDE ENERGY FUND
A program can be successful in the 1990's if it is tailored to meet customer needs and is cost effective. As organizations struggle with rising demand and shrinking budgets, efforts must be made to streamline operations. A system must be designed that reduces paperwork and maximizes direct service to the public.

Technology must be used in such a way to reduce administrative costs. A properly designed computer system will improve program operations. Our challenge will be to build a system from day one that will meet these goals. The traditional method of issuing fuel fund benefits entails a number of cumbersome, inefficient procedures. Local social service agencies typically receive a utility company grant and deposit the funds in a checking account. Agency personnel then give a check to eligible clients. The individual then turns the check over to their energy provider. The company then spends time and manpower to process the transaction. To summarize, paper is shuffled about in a process that is quickly becoming wasteful and inefficient.

As an alternative we propose a computerized payment system that will accomplish the following: speed up the benefit issuance relieve local agencies of fiscal duties streamline administrative functions establish a centralized database of recipients Instead of issuing checks we recommend a computer system or network that would send the benefit award directly to the energy provider. Local social service agencies would transmit the necessary information to the central fuel fund. The energy fund would issue payments to the various energy providers using electronic benefit transfer technology. The method by which the local organization transmits information is dependent on their possession of a personal computer. There are several options available.

Option 1
The local agency completes a form containing essential information and faxes it to the energy fund. This is the most basic method and would only be used if the agency does not have a computer onsite. Technical assistance would be given so the agency can become computer literate.
Option 2
The required information is entered into a PC and sent electronically to the energy fund. The data is added to the energy fund's central database. The transfer of information could be via ASCII file transfer, floppy disc, or a Windows based application. This method is preferable to Option 1 since data entry is done only once - at the local agency. Option 2 would even allow for the electronic applications at the local site.
Option 3
Instead of being operating system dependent and requiring standardized software, this method would allow local agencies to enter information directly into the central database. This would be achieved by direct access via the Internet. This method requires the least amount of clerical duplication. However, additional system requirements are needed. They include: an account with an Internet Service Provider, and a graphic browser, preferably Netscape, to access the World Wide Web. Security and firewall considerations would have to be fully explored. The advantages of having a computerized operation allows for the creation of a central database. The database could keep track of all energy fund recipients, allowing for elimination of duplicate payments or even referrals to appropriate programs. Once the necessary information is received by the central energy fund payments could be issued almost immediately to the energy provider. Instead of relying on paper checks, we hope to work closely with utility companies and other energy vendors in developing electronic benefit transfer. These steps together will allow for expedited services in a cost effective manner.

CONCLUSION
This report recommends establishment of New Jersey CARES, a nonprofit, statewide, year-round energy fund targeting truly needy families who might otherwise "fall through the cracks." With the ongoing reductions in federal heating assistance, the increases in middle income layoffs, etc., the need and timing for establishing a fund of last resort such as NJ CARES, is clear. The benefit to New Jersey citizens: keeping the lights and heat on for thousands of New Jersey families and avoiding energy related tragedies. The benefits for participating utilities: positive public relations, improved customer relations, a net reduction in uncollectible bill expense (after administrative costs), and improved morale of utility front-line employees since they would now have an additional tool to help solve those formerly unsolvable collection problems.

This recommendation for establishing NJ CARES will be submitted to the Presidents of New Jersey's investor-owned electric and gas utilities, the President of the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and his fellow Commissioners, the Ratepayer Advocate and NJ LIEN members. If there is a consensus to proceed, the original NJ LIEN task force will be supplemented with members from each energy utility to begin the work of formally establishing New Jersey CARES. Initial steps would include soliciting a Board of Directors, finding an Executive Director (perhaps through a loaned executive arrangement) and the legal establishment of New Jersey CARES as a 501(c)(3) corporation. Finally, a strategic plan with timelines for major implementation steps and a budget would be formulated by the Executive Director and approved by the Board. The task force recommends accomplishing the above organizational and implementation steps in a timely manner to permit December, 1996 bill insert solicitations from utility customers. December is the key month for such donations. The greatest need for customer assistance from the fund, based on the experiences of other states, will begin following the end of the Winter Termination Program on March 16, 1997.

Appendix: Minutes of the Fuel Fund Task Force Meetings
NJ LIEN SUBCOMMITTEE MEETING
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 1995
UNITED WAY OFFICE, ELIZABETH

MEMBERS PRESENT:

MICHAEL SWAYZE, CHAIRPERSON, U.C. DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES; JAMES DIETERLE, PSE&G; LAWANDA R. GILBERT, ESQ., NJ DIVISION OF RATEPAYER ADVOCATE; ANNA L. PROCOPIO, NJ BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITIES; PATRICIA STUDNICKY, UNITED WAY OF UNION COUNTY.

GUESTS PRESENT:

ROBERT J. VREELAND, AFL-CIO COMMUNITY SERVICES LIAISON, UNITED WAY OF UNION COUNTY.
The meeting was called to order at 9:35 a.m. by Mike Swayze. After introductions, Mike distributed information and updated the members on the status of LIHEAP. The subcommittee discussed the feasibility of establishing a statewide fuel fund and decided that the committee would investigate options and provide results in a report form to the entire NJ LIEN group at its next meeting in March 1996. The subcommittee discussed and established the following points:

WHY CREATE A FUEL FUND ?
Loss, reduction and delay of government funding
Lack of assistance available to the elderly, working poor, non entitlement eligible households
To provide assistance to those who experience emergencies such as medical catastrophes, loss of employment and income
Lack of administrative funding to encourage non-profit agencies to apply for other government funds for fuel
To avoid energy related tragedies
Lack of central clearing house to identify funding sources and availability of dollars
Consumer protection in the area of future deregulation
WHY STATE WIDE FUEL FUND ?
* Independent fuel funds
Economy of scale
Ability to attract other funding sources
Cover areas not currently served

Before the next scheduled meeting the subcommittee should review and be prepared to address the following points:

How funded?
Who will administer the program?
Who will handle the money?
Who will distribute the money?
Who is eligible?
Who will determine and verify eligibility and how?
How can administrative costs be minimized?
Should funds be used for only paying utility bills?
The following assignments were made: Assignment Person Responsible Number of customers in termination state wide Anna Procopio Contact other utilities regarding fuel fund Jim Dieterle regarding fuel fund Contact State Data Center Mike Swayze Contact EFSP National Board, County of Union Pat Studnicky & Sussex for LOS The next meeting of the NJ LIEN Subcommittee is scheduled for Tuesday, January 9, 1995, 9:30 a.m. at the United Way Office, Elizabeth, NJ.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Patricia Studnicky


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NJ LIEN SUBCOMMITTEE MEETING

TUESDAY, JANUARY 23, 1996

UNITED WAY OFFICE,ELIZABETH

MEMBERS PRESENT:
MICHAEL SWAYZE, CHAIRPERSON, U.C. DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES;
JAMES DIETERLE, PSE&G;
LAWANDA R. GILBERT, ESQ., NJ DIVISION OF RATEPAYER ADVOCATE;
ANNA L. PROCOPIO, NJ BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITIES;
PATRICIA STUDNICKY, UNITED WAY OF UNION COUNTY;
ROBERT J. VREELAND, AFL-CIO COMMUNITY SERVICES LIAISON, UNITED WAY OF UNION COUNTY.

GUESTS PRESENT:
DIANE TELENCIO, SUPERVISOR, HEA PROGRAM, DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, STATE OF NEW JERSEY.
The meeting that was originally scheduled for January 9, 1996 and postponed due to the "Blizzard of 96" was rescheduled for January 23, 1996 and called to order at 10:00 a.m. by Mike Swayze. Mike Swayze discussed communications emailed to and from William Waldman regarding someone to serve as a contact person from the DHS (copy attached). Mike welcomed Diane Telencio and asked how the DHS may be able to assist the committee in its efforts. Diane explained she was there to observe and bring back information to DHS.

Anna Procopio provided the committee with statistics from 1994 and 1995 from major electric and gas providers regarding residential discontinuance notices and terminations. The data showed that in 1995, 124,000 households in the state were terminated which significantly establishes the need for a fuel fund. Lawanda Gilbert questioned the cost effectiveness for utilities regarding terminations and Jim Dieterle explained that there is a reconnection fee in addition to required payment, and his company's policy holds to the notion that a termination is a last resort. It was also ascertained that the real key may be to get data on how many terminations were not reconnected. Anna will see if this information is available and report at the next meeting.

Mike Swayze reported information from the State Data Center (1989) that 943,636 individuals were living at 150% of the poverty level. In addition, the number of families receiving LIHEAP is 165,000 with 100,000 of those being automatic recipients e.g., AFDC. With the average family consisting of 2.5 which is estimated to be 400,000, it appears that more than 500,000 individuals who may be eligible are not being served. It was also noted that 85% of annual household energy needs are not being met by any program.

Jim Dieterle reported the following information on private funding assistance provided by utilities, their customers shareholders and employees for 1994: JCPL $173,000 NJNG $111,000 ATLANTIC ELECTRIC $105,000 Jim also noted that the utilities wanted to be assured that whatever mechanism is in place that any monies raised within their companies be targeted for their customers only. This raised the question of whether to coexist with currently established fuel funds. This will be addressed when distribution is discussed. These utilities also expressed they were very satisfied with the social services agencies that were providing assistance.

Pat Studnicky reported that 1995 numbers on utility assistance in New Jersey from EFSP and other sources were not available because final reports were not due until January 31. Pat expects to report these numbers at the next meeting.

The subcommittee then began to discuss the following points determined from the previous meeting:

How funded? Suggested sources of funding:

Escheated deposits
Seed monies from utilities
Matching funds from utilities
Contributions from employees
Local/County government funding
Utility customers contributions
Corporate contributions
Fund raisers
CDBG
In lieu of credits to customers
Rounding up of payments from customers
Payroll deduction (PECC)
Tear-offs at payment locations
Who will administer the program? Who will handle money?

Establish non-profit with volunteer Board of Directors
Who will distribute money?

Local social service agencies
Discussion will continue at the next meeting for the following points:

Who will administer the program?
Who will handle the money?
Who will distribute the money?
Who is eligible?
Who will determine and verify eligibility and how?
How can administrative costs be minimized?
Should funds be used for only paying utility bills?
The following assignments were made:Assignment Person Responsible Number of customers not Anna Procopio reconnected after termination Contact Elizabethtown Gas Jim Dieterle regarding 1994 funding Report EFSP NJ and other Pat Studnicky funding source numbers Research escheated deposit Lawanda Gilbert amounts and where to start regarding legislation

The next meeting of the NJ LIEN Subcommittee is scheduled for Tuesday, February 6, 1996, 9:30 a.m. at the United Way Office, Elizabeth, NJ.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:45 a.m.

Respectfully submitted, Patricia Studnicky


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NJ LIEN SUBCOMMITTEE MEETING

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 1996

UNITED WAY OFFICE, ELIZABETH MEMBERS

PRESENT:
MICHAEL SWAYZE, CHAIRPERSON, U.C. DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES; JAMES DIETERLE, PSE&G; LAWANDA R. GILBERT, ESQ., NJ DIVISION OF RATEPAYER ADVOCATE; ANNA L. PROCOPIO, NJ BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITIES; PATRICIA STUDNICKY, UNITED WAY OF UNION COUNTY; ROBERT J. VREELAND, AFL-CIO COMMUNITY SERVICES LIAISON, UNITED WAY OF UNION COUNTY.
The meeting was called to order at 10:00 a.m. by Mike Swayze.

Mike Swayze discussed President Clinton's directive to the Department of Health and Human Services authorizing an additional $90 million in Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for states, territories and Indian Tribes. The additional amount available to New Jersey is $3,494,119 for the program. Discussion on how the state would deal with this ensued. New Jersey had cut the program by 39% and shortened the program length with a late start and an earlier deadline of February 1, 1996 for application submission. The subcommittee felt that action regarding the additional funding needed to be taken by NJ LIEN. Mike was going to poll the executive committee and other members for input and then take appropriate action. (SEE ATTACHED EMAIL TO COMMISSIONER WALDMAN).

Mike raised the question whether we were at a point to get more people involved and invite them to join our efforts. The consensus was that we were very much in the planning stages and had a long way to go to develop a proposal. It was agreed that other members of the NJ LIEN be invited to our next meeting. A copy of the Interim Report was distributed to the subcommittee and will be mailed to the entire NJ LIEN members and this will be the vehicle used to ask for participation.

Reports were given as follows:

Ann Procopio reported that information she was able to get on customers not reconnected after termination was very difficult to interpret. Anna will try to get clearer information, if it exists.

Pat Studnicky gave a report on estimated EFSP Utility Assistance for the state for 1995; $304,880 was allocated to pay 2,793 bills. Union County figures totaled $70,536 for 572 bills from five separate funding streams. Pat will contact Ruth Schmid at the DHS to try to get figures for the entire state.

Lawanda Gilbert reported that the state does not have a report that gives escheated deposit totals. She was told that a formal request would have to be made to get the information. It was decided to poll utility companies to try to get the information.

Jim Dieterle presented the group with a handout (attached) on questions the group was to address at the meeting. Discussion began on the points outlined by Jim.

Because of time constraints, it was agreed that all members would look at the questions and come back to the next meeting prepared to deal with them one by one as follows:

Who will administer the program?
Who will handle the money?
Who will distribute the money?
Who is eligible?
Who will determine and verify eligibility and how?
How can administrative costs be minimized?
Should funds be used for only paying utility bills?
The next meeting of the NJ LIEN Subcommittee is scheduled for Tuesday, February 20, 1996, 9:30 a.m. at the United Way Office, Elizabeth, NJ.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:45 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Patricia Studnicky


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NJ LIEN SUBCOMMITTEE MEETING

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 1996

UNITED WAY OFFICE, ELIZABETH MEMBERS

PRESENT:
MICHAEL SWAYZE, CHAIRPERSON, U.C. DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES; JAMES DIETERLE, PSE&G; LAWANDA R. GILBERT, ESQ., NJ DIVISION OF RATEPAYER ADVOCATE; ANNA L. PROCOPIO, NJ BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITIES; PATRICIA STUDNICKY, UNITED WAY OF UNION COUNTY; ROBERT J. VREELAND, AFL-CIO COMMUNITY SERVICES LIAISON, UNITED WAY OF UNION COUNTY.
The meeting was called to order at 9:45 a.m. by Mike Swayze.

Mike Swayze stated that the Subcommittee's Interim Report was not mailed out to the entire NJ LIEN membership due to a heavy work schedule. The question was raised whether to include non-member community action organizations and county welfare agencies in the mailing. It was agreed that when the Final Report is completed, the agencies mentioned above would be included.

Anna Procopio reported that Ken Papsun is now the Director of the Division of Customer Relations at the BPU. No response was received from the email sent to Commissioner Waldman regarding the release of the $3.5 million in additional LIHEAP funds.

Jim Dieterle indicated that Jack Simzak was on vacation and that options be passed on to the Department of Human Services. Jim indicated that federal regulations prohibit more than 10% of funding be carried over. However, the DHS reported in a newsletter that the funding had been received and they expected that the funds would meet current needs by processing applications that have been received and not funded to date. Discussion concerning this ensued, it was agreed that parties concerned should contact the DHS with their options on an individual/group basis, since NJ LIEN had previously communicated concerns.

Kay Joslin of the LIHEAP Clearinghouse provided a copy of the "Reach Out for Warmth" from Minnesota, a program that was established to assist low income households with meeting energy needs. Copies were distributed to everyone.

Lawanda Gilbert distributed a list of Unrefunded Utility Deposits Escheated to the State of NJ (attached) with notes from JCP&L regarding concerns.

Questions were addressed as follows:

WHO ADMINISTERS ?

Establish Non-Profit with volunteer board of directors
Paid staffer(s) Director
Administration Costs covered by Utilities
Co-exist with current fuel funds
Who has 501(c)(3) LIEN or LIEN Fuel Fund?
Use Community Organization with 501(c)(3)
Driven by Low Administrative Cost
WHO WILL HANDLE $ ?

* How will contributions flow ? * Existing Fuel Funds * Utility to Fuel Fund to
Customer Back to Utility * Utility would mean any source of contribution/contributor * Customer Involved & Acknowledged * Direct Vendoring * Electronic Transfer - Fuel Fund to Provider * Email ? * People Appeal Essential
HOW TO DISTRIBUTE ? * Allocation of funds * Rich vs Poor areas * Distribution Formula * Excess from Other Fuel Funds to NJFF * Incentive to Existing Fuel Funds * Incentive to Utilities to Establish Fuel Funds

WHO IS ELIGIBLE ? * Pegged to Poverty Index ? Income vs Needs Based ----- Strict Guidelines * Benefit Cap ? Yes/No * Customer Responsibility * Customer Incentives * Customer Co-pay ----- Cash Payment * Customer, if Eligible, Weatherization Steps * Customer, Co-pay with other funds, i.e. FEMA * Must Explore All Possibilities * Last Resort * Uncontrollable Situations Unemployment/Medical Catastrophe * Families with Children * Elderly * Disabled * LIHEAP Leveraging $

WHO WILL DETERMINE & VERIFY ELIGIBILITY & HOW ?

Strict Guidelines Provided by Fuel Fund
Community Action Programs:
Existing agencies:
Salvation Army
Catholic Community Services
NORWESCAP
Urban League
Establish Sites
Agencies get "paid" Administration Fee ?
HOW TO AVOID DELAYS

Monitor
Documentation, Accountability
HOW TO MINIMIZE ADMINISTRATION COSTS

* Utilities Cover All * Per Customer * Percentage of EXPENSES * Executive Director BOARD OF DIRECTORS * Postage * Checks * Agencies * Fuel Fund Bills Utilities

Questions were raised regarding the following:

Should Oil be Included ?
Can Fuel Fund Cover More Than One Utility ?
Mike will send a list of questions to 10 to 15 established Fuel Funds identified as state-wide and also request, if applicable, for a copy of legislation used to establish their organizations. We hope that responses will be available at the next meeting.

The members were asked to review all of the points that were addressed at the four previous meetings and asked to FAX any additional points to Mike by March 15 at (908) 965-3858.

The next meeting of the NJ LIEN Subcommittee is scheduled for Tuesday, March 26, 1996, 9:30 a.m. at the United Way Office, Elizabeth, NJ.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Patricia Studnicky


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NJ LIEN SUBCOMMITTEE MEETING

TUESDAY, MARCH 26, 1996

UNITED WAY OFFICE, ELIZABETH

MEMBERS PRESENT:
MICHAEL SWAYZE, CHAIRPERSON, U.C. DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES; JAMES DIETERLE, PSE&G; LAWANDA R. GILBERT, ESQ., NJ DIVISION OF RATEPAYER ADVOCATE; ANNA L. PROCOPIO, NJ BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITIES; PATRICIA STUDNICKY, UNITED WAY OF UNION COUNTY.

MEMBERS EXCUSED:
ROBERT J. VREELAND, AFL-CIO COMMUNITY SERVICES LIAISON, UNITED WAY OF UNION COUNTY.
The meeting was called to order at 9:40 a.m. by Mike Swayze.

Mike Swayze stated that the Subcommittee's Interim Report was not mailed out to the entire NJ LIEN membership due to a heavy work schedule.

Mike mailed letters asking the following questions:

New Jersey is represented by seven major utility companies. Only three operate a fuel fund. Since your organization is designated as a statewide fuel fund or statewide in scope, how do you relate to other existing fuel funds in your state? Did you or do you contemplate a merger with them?
Do you have a "magic formula" for distribution to areas served by other fuel funds?
Do you provide assistance for all types of heating sources, including oil?
How do you cover administrative costs?
Did your state legislature pass legislation relating to your formation, operation or funding?
What advice would you give us on starting a successful statewide fuel fund? What lessons have you learned?
To the following:

Operation Fuel, Inc. Bloomfield, Connecticut
Heat Share Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
Salvation Army/Project SHARE Atlanta, Georgia
Project SHARE Birmingham, Alabama
Energy Share of ND Jamestown, North Dakota
Oregon Heat Tualatin, Oregon
Energy Share of WY Sheridan, Wyoming
Energy Share of MT Helena, Montana
Responses were received (attached) and were distributed from Heat Share, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota and Energy Share of Montana. Discussion ensued regarding the responses.Pat Studnicky will set up a chart that outlines questions and responses which we can add to as responses are received. A draft copy will be distributed at the next meeting.

Mike spoke to a representative from Operation Fuel, Inc., CT and reported information that the fuel fund was started in 1997 and in the early 1980's the fund received $40,000 through legislation which required utilities to contribute to the fund. Fifty-five organizations are involved which do intake and distribute funds as well as other funds available.

Monies raised through legislation are earmarked to serve individuals that are 151% to 200% of poverty level. Other monies serve those below 151%. The maximum grant is $150.00. The fund employs two full time staff. Dollars raised from utilities and business are used for the $120,000 administrative budget. In-kind support is also given. Local groups request funding and funds are allocated on a needs basis. Administration is allowed at a 5% level.

The Operation Fuel Fund Board meets monthly from September through June and reviews and appropriates funding. A copy of the legislation is attached.

Mike also distributed a one page synopsis (from USEF in Philadelphia, PA. Discussion on whether to visit the program in the future ensued. It was agreed that this would be very helpful to see an operation "first hand" and give the group the opportunity to ask questions. Jim Dieterle reported the PSE&G escheated deposits: 1995 $565,717.77 1994 $401,970.92 The NJ Legislative Calendar dates for Budget and Appropriations are Tuesday, May 7, 1996 for the Assembly and Wednesday, May 8, 1996. Discussion regarding proposal preparation in time was explored. It was decided that a Draft could not be ready in time. However we must begin to set timetables and deadlines, as well as a structured plan.

In light of this the following assignments were made:

Structure of Non-Profi,t Lawanda Gilbert
Eligibility Criteria, Jim Dieterle
Eligibility of Network Members, Pat Studnicky
Electronic Component, Mike Swayze
Needs Analysis, Anna Procopio
It was agreed that every one would FAX their assignment to each other between April 10 and 12. FAX numbers were exchanged. Mike Swayze's number is (908) 754-0732.

Copies of a letter (attached) from the New Jersey Utilities Association to David Heins, Acting Deputy Director Division of Family Development regarding the additional LIHEAP dollars were distributed to the group by Jim Dieterle. Lawanda Gilbert distributed a letter (attached) regarding the above from her office to Commissioner Waldman as well.

The next meeting of the NJ LIEN Subcommittee was scheduled for Tuesday, April 16, 1996, 9:30 a.m. at the United Way Office, Elizabeth, NJ. However the meeting has been rescheduled to: Tuesday, April, 23, 1996, 9:30 a.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Patricia Studnicky


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NJ LIEN SUBCOMMITTEE MEETING

TUESDAY, APRIL 23, 1996

UNITED WAY OFFICE, ELIZABETH

MEMBERS PRESENT:
MICHAEL SWAYZE, CHAIRPERSON, U.C. DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES; JAMES DIETERLE, PSE&G; LAWANDA R. GILBERT, ESQ., NJ DIVISION OF RATEPAYER ADVOCATE; ANNA L. PROCOPIO, NJ BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITIES; PATRICIA STUDNICKY, UNITED WAY OF UNION COUNTY.

MEMBERS EXCUSED:
ROBERT J. VREELAND, AFL-CIO COMMUNITY SERVICES LIAISON, UNITED WAY OF UNION COUNTY.

GUEST PRESENT:
MARGARET MAYORA, NJ DIVISION OF RATEPAYER ADVOCATE
The meeting was called to order at 9:40 a.m. by Mike Swayze.

The minutes of the previous meeting were corrected to reflect "fund" in paragraph 3 on page 2 and $120,000 in a subsequent paragraph.

Correspondence from Karen Highsmith; FDP, at the Department of Human Services to County Welfare Offices was received and stated that clients requesting crisis assistance from LIHEAP may be able to receive a maximum of $400 in Emergency Assistance from LIHEAP.Discussion ensued regarding Emergency Assistance.

Presentation and a lengthy discussion ensued regarding last month's assignments as outlined below:

Structure of Non-Profi,t Lawanda Gilbert
Eligibility Criteria, Jim Dieterle
Eligibility of Network Members, Pat Studnicky
Electronic Component, Mike Swayze
Needs Analysis, Anna Procopio
The following questions were raised:

Would it be legal for a Board member to be an employee of the state?
Would ex-officio members be eligible?
Would the fund operate under an existing non-profit?
Would the fund operate as a Fuel Fund or NJ LIEN Fuel Fund?
Methods of recruiting board members.
Where do the start-up fees come from, i.e. incorporation?
How would escheated deposits be distributed?
It was agreed that these should be distributed on an as needs basis.

After discussion on all of the assignments was completed, it was agreed to edit the information with the suggested changes and also change FUEL FUND to ENERGY FUND in all instances. It was also agreed to have copies of all edited assignments translated into the ASCII format (on disk) for the final report. Copies of all of the edited assignments are attached.

The next meeting of the NJ LIEN Subcommittee is scheduled for Monday, May 20, 1996, 9:30 a.m. at the United Way Office, Elizabeth, NJ.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Patricia Studnicky

 

 


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