Introducing the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program
Introducing the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) – what’s next for water and wastewater utilities?
Over the last decade, customers’ water, wastewater, energy, and solid waste bills have increased significantly and consistently, outpacing the consumer price index (CPI). There are several drivers for these increases, including: need for infrastructure repair, replacement, and expansion and the lack of federal grant funding; lack of necessary rate increases in the past; cost of building resiliency and responding to increasing severe weather events; and the need for investments driven by regulation.
These challenges have forced utilities to increase rates by larger amounts and more frequently, leaving many customers struggling to pay their bill and utilities wrestling with their own long-term financial sustainability. As the focus on water affordability intensifies, utilities are looking for solutions for their customers while they continue to provide utility services that meet customer expectations while and maintaining financial sustainability.
In response to concerns about affordability, many utilities are seeking to enhance customer assistance programs, provide funding to customers to make utility bills more affordable, or build affordability measures directly into their rate structures. Reaching vulnerable customers and implementing effective programs requires a multi-faceted approach. Raftelis helps to develop and implement the following types of customer assistance programs that meet the needs of a utility’s customers.