Financial help for power bills

May 29, 2008 5:25:29 PM PDT
Summer is here and already people are having a tough time paying for the power they need to keep cool.On top of that, the cost of electricity could go up significantly in the next few months, putting yet another financial burden on those who are already having a tough time.

The good news is you can get help. Margie Phelps knows plenty of people are going to need assistance.

"We have a lot of senior citizens and a lot of unemployed who need this assistance and they really need to know more about it," she said.

Spreading the word is reason state, local and private sector officials were at the Southwest Multi-Service Center Thursday.

"We see about 24,000 clients a year asking for some type of assistance," said Ellen Seaton with Harris County Community Services. "Approximately 70% of all requests are for assistance with electric utility bills."

Seaton says her agency has already helped more than 400 people get help paying a power bill. If you need assistance, you must be a resident of Harris County, be at least 18 years old, have a disconnect notice, be head of household and provide proof of financial need.

The agency has about $2 million to help those in need. Much of that comes from Reliant Energy. The company has set aside $1 million in aid state wide. If you are a Reliant customer, the company is pledging to work with you if the summer time bill gets too high.

"That assistance will include a moratorium on disconnections for qualified low income and elderly and critical care customers who contact Reliant energy," said Albert Myres who is with the company.

Reliant officials say the help is available beginning in July.

"I wish that everyone who needs the program will be able to get it," Phelps said. If you need help paying a summer time power bill, no matter who your electric provider is, call Harris County Social Services 713-696-7900.

If you are a Reliant Energy customer, contact the company if you are having trouble. Click here for the contact information.

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