Energy bill assistance available for Alabamians amid rising rates


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — With Alabama Power announcing a rate hike starting in August, keeping the thermostat down this summer may not be an option for those trying to keep up with rising costs.

Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh says skyrocketing fuel prices are behind the higher utility bills. The Commission recently allowed Alabama Power to recover roughly 4% of the money they spend on fuel costs, resulting in a higher rate.

She says companies are allowed to recover the amount of money they spend on fuel because fuel prices fluctuate.

“If we were to leave the fuel clause in place that we set in January, the amount consumers would be in debt to Alabama Power Company for fuel prices would be astronomical.”

The company estimates customers will pay about $6 more a month. Cavanaugh emphasizes this increase doesn’t go toward profits, but offsets what they’ve spent on fuel.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s Department of Economic and Community Affairs has seen a roughly 5-10% increase this year in applications for energy bill assistance.

“The demand is always much greater than the amount of funding that we get, so unfortunately, we can’t always, the local agencies can’t always assist everyone that applies, but they do their best,” ADECA’s Acting Energy Division Chief Jennifer Lee said.

The state receives about $60 million annually through the Health and Human Services Department to implement the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program, or LIHEAP.

Community action centers across the state help administer the program through ADECA, serving roughly 73,000 eligible households.

“We get dangerously hot sometimes here in the south,” Lee said. “It’s especially important for our vulnerable households — those on fixed incomes, our elderly, those with medical conditions and households with young children, they need that help.”

The Salvation Army’s “Project SHARE” (Services to Help Alabamians with Relief on Energy) is another initiative to help with power bills. Montgomery Salvation Army Co-Director and Administrator Tabitha Roberts says it’s available to those who receive social security or have disabilities.

“We see bills skyrocketing because the AC is going and the kids are home, so we see an increase in utility assistance needed, so we are happy to come those who come to us for assistance.” Roberts said.

For more information on LIHEAP through ADECA, head here, and for more on Project SHARE, head here.

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