Agencies See Increase in Demand for Heating Bill Assistance - KOAM TV 7

Agencies See Increase in Demand for Heating Bill Assistance


People are already feeling the pinch of our cold winter weather and  one agency is already seeing some funds depleted that help with heating bills. 
   For Kenith  Faulkner, a broken hip led to a shortage of funds for the electric bill and a shutoff notice.  He and wife Sharon found help from economic security. 

Faulkner says, "We would have had to take grocery money to pay the electric bill, I'll  put it that way, if it hadn't  been for them.  Its been a blessing!"

But the crisis fund that helped the Faulkners is now out of money. However people can still apply for energy assistance at economic security.  Robyn Walker the emergency coordinator says, "We can help with their primary heating source,  a one time grant.  If they're in a crisis with their secondary utility right now we are out of funds for that. We wont have funds again til June, so its kind of bleak."

Other  groups like Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri  and St. Vincent de Paul are seeing an increased  demand for help. 
John Olson the treasurer with St. Vincent de Paul says, "In 2013, we had over 320 utility assistance cases which was thirty-six thousand dollars.  Of course, we just started this month but it was  busy the  first week  and we anticipate will be the same  because its been a colder  November, December, and January  than last year 1813..

Assistance request come for all heat sources not just gas and electric. Some are seeking money for  propane at Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri. Community Services Coordinator Andrea Minor says, "The problem with propane is there is no cold weather rule. You run out of propane, you're out of propane. 

Energy assistance officials  want residents to realize the cold weather rule which prohibits utilities from shutting off service if temperatures are predicted below freezing,  is only a temporary fix. They'll eventually have to pay that bill. 

 Minor says, "There's a lot of false security with the cold weather rule. People think their power wont be shut off  but it still can be shut off when it warms up.  And then, also by not paying, they're hit with a huge bill later that they cant pay without assistance."

Economic Security also helped the Faulkners by weatherizing the house by  adding insulation, caulking, replacing windows, soffets and fascia and reconnecting ductwork. 
 Faulkner says, "It cut our electricity bill down by about a third."  The Faulkners also got on an average pay plan with their utilities with makes their monthly bills more manageable. That and weatherization are recommended for all who hope to shave dollars off their utility bills.

For details of the average payment plan with Empire District Electric click here.

Also for complete details of the Cold Weather Rule click here.



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