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News Release
Stay Connected! Help Paying Your Phone Bill
September 13, 2010 (2010-019)
Contacts:  Ray Baum, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Susan Ackerman, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Affairs Specialist, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR.  The Oregon Public Utility Commission wants you to know that you may be eligible for help paying your telephone bill. 
"We want to make sure that all eligible households in Oregon benefit from monthly savings on their phone bills," said Jon Cray, Program Manager at the Oregon Public Utility Commission. "It’s critical in these difficult economic times to be able to connect with family, jobs, and emergency services. There is a state program that helps make it possible for low-income Oregonians who qualify.”
The Oregon Telephone Assistance Program (OTAP) provides a discount on local basic telephone service of $13.50 a month or less to qualifying low-income customers.  OTAP receives its funding from a ratepayer surcharge. The assistance is provided by most telephone companies throughout the state.
Oregonians who receive one of the following qualifying benefits may receive a discount on their bill for local residential telephone service or cellular service: 
  • Food Stamps
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Certain State Medical Programs or Medicaid
OTAP currently serves about 45,000 Oregon residents.  “We think there are many more Oregonians who may be eligible but simply are not aware of the program. We hope they will contact us to receive the benefit of this program,” Cray added.
The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has proclaimed the week of September 14 - 20, 2010 as National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week.
“This is the Second Annual National Telephone Discount Awareness Week event,” said Oregon Public Utility Commissioner Ray Baum, who chairs the NARUC Telecommunications Committee.  “Through this effort, we hope to bring as many qualified consumers as possible on board. I firmly believe no one should be without telephone service in this day and age.”
NARUC hopes the National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week will help get more consumers connected. NARUC is teaming up with the Federal Communications Commission, the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, and eligible telecommunications carriers to draw more low-income consumers into federal and state Lifeline and Link-up programs.
To enroll for OTAP, consumers should call 1(800) 848-4442 or go online to http://www.puc.state.or.us/Pages/rspf/index.aspx