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NC One Water Annual Conference: Customer Assistance Programs in North Carolina – Survey Results and Specifics
December 5, 2022 @ 10:40 am - 11:40 am
With the need to invest in aging infrastructure and concerns about the ability of low-income customers to pay for water and wastewater services, many utilities create a Customer Assistance Program (or CAP) to address these concerns while meeting the revenue requirement of a utility. CAPs can mitigate affordability challenges in different ways—from reimbursements for water-efficient appliances to flexible payment options and bill payment assistance programs.
In North Carolina, utilities are limited to the statutory authority expressly granted them by the state to administer and fund CAPs. For example, utilities are prohibited from using revenue generated from rates to fund bill payment assistance programs. However, many utilities have created and funded CAPs throughout the state of North Carolina, though information about the breadth of CAPs is lacking. In this session, the UNC Environmental Finance Center will present the results of its 2022 North Carolina CAPs survey. The data show a range of CAPs, including types of assistance offered, eligibility requirements, funding options, and target populations. Specific examples from some of the nearly 50 CAPs throughout the state showcase how CAPs can be created by utilities of all sizes and funded from non-rate revenue. Although CAPs can be limited by funding and administrative capacity, they fill an important role for a utility that seeks to address affordability challenges.
Elsemarie Mullins, Project Director, UNC Environmental Finance Center
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