Customers Rush For Help Paying Heat Bills

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by Elizabeth Fay

MILWAUKEE -- Families behind on their heat and electric bills must act fast or their We Energies services will be shut off starting April 15th.

As the deadline approaches, low-income customers are lining up at local agencies to apply for help covering the cost.

"This is a totally different Spring than we had last year. People are still using their heat, they still need to keep warm and they are still coming in for energy assistance," says Energy Assistance Program Manager of Social Development Commission, Sandra White.

Applicants have until May 15th to apply for funds. The average household that meets the qualifications receives $338 for We Energies bills, according to White.

Single parent, Michael Johnson of Milwaukee welcomes the help. " It's been extra cold this year, you have to burn extra energy and every little bit helps," he says.

Even though residents used about 10% more heat this season, a We Energies Spokesperson, Cathy Schulze says the average overall cost to customers is only expected to be about 3% more than the previous heating season. "That's mainly because the cost of natural gas is down right now. It's lower, so even though people are using more, they are not seeing that much of an increase in their bill."

To learn more about the qualifications for funding, payment plans, and locations to apply check out the following websites:

Social Development Commission:

http://www.cr-sdc.org/index/Programs--Services/Support-Services/Energy-Assistance.htm

Community Advocates:

http://communityadvocates.net/utilities/

We Energies:

http://www.we-energies.com/residential/paybill/index.htm

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