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Stay Connected! Help Paying Your Phone Bill
September 8, 2011
Contacts:  Susan Ackerman, Commissioner, 503 378-6611, John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611, Bob Valdez, Public Affairs Specialist, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR.  You may be eligible for help paying your telephone bill according to the Oregon Public Utility Commission.

"We want to make sure that all eligible households in Oregon benefit from monthly savings on their phone bills," said Jon Cray, Telephone Assistance 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. Fortunately, 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. Most Oregon telephone companies offer this assistance.
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 a significant number of Oregonians who may be eligible but simply are not aware of the program,” Cray added.

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has proclaimed the week of September 12 – 18, 2011 as National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week.
“This is the third year for the National Telephone Discount Awareness Week event,” said Cray.  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: http://www.puc.state.or.us/Pages/rspf/index.aspx