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Emergency Hotline: 1.800.400.4271

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What is an Emergency?

Gas leaks, an odor of gas, damaged lines, and carbon monoxide symptoms are all considered emergencies. If you have an emergency, call our emergency hotline at 1-800-400-4271. Our personnel are ready to assist you 24/7. When in doubt, call us immediately. 

If you smell gas, do not attempt to locate the leak. Instead, leave the house or building right away. Do not turn on or off any electrical switches, appliances, or lights, as an electrical charge could create a spark. When you are in a safe place, call the Peoples emergency hotline.

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Making Your Life Better with the Community Cold Weather Safety Program


  • Photograph provided by Travis Dewitz. Full photograph available on his website.

It is a story all too common for Pittsburghers.

Cutting across a chipped cobblestone street in Rankin, a borough just to the east of Pittsburgh, you can hear that hollow echo. It calls up from the Monongahela—the low thunder of a freight car, the hiss of steam, the heavy clang of metal. It is the song of steel from decades ago, the ghost of a trade whispering through the ghost of a town. Where a booming steel industry once coursed through Rankin, the area is now sparsely populated and struggling.

Just down the road, you will find a similar situation in the Braddock borough. Like Rankin, it is an area that lost a huge portion of its population when many of the steel mills in the region closed shop. Today, the rising cost of living continues to pummel these stricken areas. In particular, it is extremely difficult for the working poor and for our seniors to shake free of hard times. “These are people who just get behind,” Braddock Mayor John Fetterman said, “and once they’re behind they can’t get out.”

It was Mayor Fetterman who set a profound change in motion in Braddock last winter of 2014-2015. As a deep freeze tightened its grip on the region, Fetterman reached out to Peoples to find out which of his constituents did not have heat in their homes. Peoples immediately responded with a list of customers without heat in his community, provided information about assistance programs like LIHEAP (the federal Low-Income Heating Energy Assistance Program), and directed help to the customers he reached. Sparked by Fetterman’s determination and fueled by Peoples’ desire to help those who need it most, the Community Cold Weather Safety Program (CCWSP) was born.

This winter season, the CCWSP was back in Braddock, but it also expanded to encompass Rankin (population 2, 111). Currently, LIHEAP targets residents whose income falls at or under 150 percent of the federal poverty line, meaning an individual making less than $17,655 a year, or a family of four with an annual income under $36,375. According to the 2010 Census, the median income for a household in Rankin was $13,832.

The CCWSP has helped us connect with people face-to-face in those instances when heat is so crucial. “We can easily identify the neighborhoods where we have customers with limited income,” said Rita Urbaniak, Peoples’ Manager of Universal Services. “But you really impact those when you have a person who is in those communities, who knows where people congregate, who people trust with these problems.” With the support of a local champion like Mayor Fetterman and a safe harbor like the Free Store in Braddock, Peoples can have that sort of impact. This grassroots campaign allowed our company to more effectively distribute information about available assistance.

In 2014, Pennsylvania’s branch of LIHEAP provided assistance to nearly 400,000 households. But in a state with an average of 1.6 million eligible households, this means that over 75% of those households did not take advantage of LIHEAP funding last year. Moreover, almost 90% of LIHEAP recipient households have at least one vulnerable person—a senior age 60 or older, a child under 18, or an individual with a disability.

In a neighborhood like Braddock or Rankin, this means that when Mayor John Fetterman knocked on the doors of eligible LIHEAP households, he could expect to find that 3 out of 4 of those homes did not know about LIHEAP. We must ask ourselves, how else can we help?

By educating these regions about available programs, we can give residents a bit more stability and show them that someone is here for them, that someone cares. According to the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC), “Higher energy and energy-related costs have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable households, many of which currently pay as much as half their total income on home energy.” But recently, NEUAC released an initial state funding table for LIHEAP; in it, Pennsylvania is set to receive over $182 million in grant funds to support the program—second only to New York in dollar volume. Given Peoples’ position as an energy leader and community advocate, we must do our best to educate our customers and let the public know that help is available.

Not only does LIHEAP immediately benefit our customers by securing their safety, it also promotes a branching-out effect that will benefit our communities in the long term. “This small Federal program has a multiplier effect,” the NEUAC explains. “When struggling families can afford energy, they remain in their homes, children are in stable schooling and seniors and veterans maintain access to services providers.” As we invest in the CCWSP, we create long-lasting value for both the company and our customers.

By getting boots on the ground and recruiting well-known members of these communities, the Community Cold Weather Safety Program can foster a stronger relationship between Peoples and our customers. It underscores our commitment to our communities, to our neighbors, and shows that we will do all we can to ensure their well-being and to make lives better.