Utility Assistance Programs: The Gift of Energy

By Chris Hellmann, Research Analyst –

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of unemployed Americans has risen by more than 3.8 million since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

More people than ever have struggled to pay their bills and keep the lights on. Since the pandemic’s onset, Utilities nationwide have received a surge of requests for ways that their customers can help to support one another.

In this Wednesday’s Chartwell webinar, Utility Assistance Programs: The Gift of Energy, PSE&G, SMUD, and New Jersey SHARES will describe their customer assistance programs, including how, when, and why they were formed and the feedback that they’ve received since implementing them.

New Jersey SHARES (NJ SHARES) began in 1998 and served 99 households. Currently, NJ SHARES has provided 183,000 households with $74.5 million in energy assistance. The NJ SHARES Client Services Call Center was established in 2005 and aids thousands of households annually with enrollment in Verizon, Communication Lifeline.

Our speakers will be:

Christy Barone, Manager of Credit and Collections, PSE&G

Jeff Fehler, Supervisor of Segment Delivery, SMUD

Cheryl Stowell, Director, New Jersey SHARES

Jeff has been a supervisor in SMUD’s Special Assistance team since 2019. He leads a team of program managers and other staff who manage SMUD’s low income programs like EnergyHelp and Energy Assistance Program Rate (EAPR) as well as programs including the SMUD Energy Store, HomePower and Budget Billing. Jeff has been at SMUD since 2016 and prior to that led Project Management Offices at Oracle and Apple.

Christy has worked for PSE&G for 30 years, holding positions in the company’s laboratory, procurement, environmental, appliances service, and performance reporting and benchmarking sectors. She has 15 years of experience in Credit and Collections and is currently now serves as manager.

Prior to NJ SHARES, Cheryl spent over 20 years establishing and maintaining successful working relationships on the Local, State and Federal levels, during which time she advised and participated in direct and grassroots advocacy, strategic planning and collaborative stakeholder development. Cheryl is a skilled communicator and coalition builder with experience discussing complex issues across a wide array of policy areas. She brings these skills with her to her current role, where she works strategically with the NJ SHARES Board of Directors to ensure the execution of the organization’s programs and long-term goals.

You can register for this upcoming webinar here. We look forward to seeing you there!