We asked PPL Electric Utilities’ Chris Schoemaker to answer questions for us about programs that can help income-eligible customers save energy and money.
What is WRAP?
WRAP is a weatherization program that provides free energy efficiency upgrades for low-income customers. The average customer saves up to 8-10 percent on their electricity bills by participating in this program. The program aims to:
- Lower customers’ electric bills.
- Increase their comfort level.
- Refer customers to other assistance programs they may qualify for.
What does WRAP stand for?
Winter Relief Assistance Program. While “winter” is in the name, we also help customers save energy in the summer, too, by replace inefficient appliances like air conditioners and dehumidifiers and teaching them ways they can save.
Who is eligible for the WRAP program?
Customers who are within 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines who have not received WRAP assistance in the last seven years. As an example, a family of four can make up to $47,700 annually and still qualify for the program.
Where do you see WRAP going?
Technology is constantly evolving. Incandescent lights were invented over 135 years ago. It wasn’t until around 10 years ago that CFLs became more accepted, and now we are already making the switch to LEDs. I see WRAP evolving with the industry. As technologies within the industry become more energy- and cost-efficient, I see those same technologies being added to the WRAP program.
What other programs do we offer?
OnTrack is a financial assistance program for payment troubled customers. The program offers a lowered monthly payment, an annual benefit limit, and an opportunity to erase any past due debt with PPL.
Operation HELP is a program that provides lump sum payments to address a customers’ heating costs. The program fuels all fuel sources and is funded by donations given by both PPL customers and employees.
CARES is a program for customers who are experiencing temporary hardships. It provides lump sum payments to assist customers during times of temporary financial set back.
Can customers still shop for electricity if they participate in these programs?
Absolutely! In fact, we encourage shopping because it assists our customers in saving money and makes our programs even more cost-effective. We always suggest that customers read any contract carefully and make sure to monitor price per kilowatt-hour regularly, especially for in the OnTrack program. If a customer’s rate increases he or she could exhaust their OnTrack benefit limit at a higher rate and risk removal from the plan.
How can our customers sign up for these programs?
WRAP has a dedicated group of employees who only handle customers applying for WRAP. There are no prompts to go through; customers can dial 1-888-232-6302 and a representative can take their application over the phone.
What are the benefits?
The average customer saves about 8-10% on their electric bill annually because of the measures we install and their altered usage habits. With this savings, customers can focus more on some other necessities like medicine, food or other utility bills.
In addition, customers with electric heat may receive air sealing and insulation measures. In a winter like the one we had last year, this is a very important benefit of the program.
And because we conduct WRAP work through community based organizations, the customer is exposed to various other assistance programs that can help them with other needs.
Why do we have these programs?
PPL started WRAP in 1985 as a means to help lower-income families reduce their energy costs and improve their living comfort. In 1988, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission mandated that all electric and gas utilities offer free weatherization programs for low-income customers.
What can our customers do to get involved?
If they feel that they may qualify, they should call 1-888-232-6302 and get the application process started. If they don’t qualify, but know someone who does, they should spread the word about the program and its benefits.
What does PPL Electric Utilities do when there is a “neighborhood blitz?”
When we do a neighborhood blitz, we can make an entire block of homes more energy-efficient. For example, in August we weatherized 15 homes in a single day through the WRAP program. There were three main objectives to the neighborhood blitz. First, we wanted to raise awareness of the WRAP program. Second, we wanted to promote energy efficiency. We want energy efficiency to become contagious. An apartment within a complex becomes more energy-efficient if the surrounding apartments are also weatherized. Likewise, if neighbors talk about the WRAP program, we can have an entire neighborhood saving money. Finally, our goal is to improve the overall health of the communities in which we serve. Enabling customers to help keep their families warm in a winter like the one we had last year brings both physical and mental comfort … something we all can appreciate.