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Energy assistance offered to those in need

The cold is likely to generate higher heating bills for many local residents and some of them may have trouble paying. The Social Development Commission or SDC said they can help.

\"All of a sudden the temperatures have plummeted, so people are using their furnace more.They are using more energy to run the furnace, more natural gas,\" said Cathy Schulze, a spokesperson for We Energies.

People are using more energy now compared to the last few weeks, which will be reflected in your bill. Another thing to be aware of is the rate hike that was passed last year.

\"What the average customer will see is an increase of about 2 dollars a month on their bill,\" said Schulze.

But for many, that increase won't show up until their next billing cycle. The payment schedule is also a little different this time of year.

\"During the holiday season what tends to happen; we tend to see a lengthier billing cycle due to the holidays and the mail schedule,\" said Schulze.

These temperatures are also the reason why thousands seek Diane Robinson's help. She's the Energy Assistance Program Manager for SDC.

\"Right now, we are in probably around 60 to 62-thousand households per year,\" said Robinson.

Surprisingly, now isn't the busiest time for them.

\"We pretty much have a steady stream of customers that are coming in seeking assistance. Its not as heavy as it is at the start of the season,\" said Robinson.

The heating season starts October 1st and last up until May 15th.

However, now is the time when many, even those who don't seek assistance, see an increase in their heating bill.

\"We're not working, we're at home, we have company over and we use more energy,\" said Schulze.

We Energies has provided these tips to help you during the winter-- http://www.weenergies.blogspot.com/

If you need help paying your heating bill you can call SDC at (414)906-2800

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