Help Available to Pay Utility Bills

By: Jessa Goddard
By: Jessa Goddard

Knoxville (WVLT) - The National Energy Assistance Directors' Association estimates utility companies will disconnect approximately 1.2 million Americans who are behind on their bills from March through May.

As we experience above average temperatures in Tennessee, some families will have to take the heat without air conditioning.

But there is help for your family, if you know where to look.

Workers at the Knox County Community Action Commission are busy stuffing envelopes this afternoon, with information that could help you pay the bills.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is a year round program, with benefits between 450 and 500 dollars, based on household circumstances.

There's also crisis assistance for people who experience an uncontrollable circumstance, such as a death in the family, and can document an energy crisis.

"We also play a very proactive role by providing energy assistance, which helps pay a utility bill and then that family can use that money to purchase other needed goods,” says Cecelia Waters, director of energy and housing services.

Your family's benefit is based on your income and utility bill.

The CAC will accept applications in their neighborhood centers beginning august first.

But if you don't meet federal poverty income guidelines, and are having a hard time paying your summer utility bills, there's help for you, too.

"Don't be intimidated by struggling or having a hard time paying your utility bill, make sure you give us a call so we can work with you,” says KUB spokesperson Jennifer Fern.

The NEADA study found in some states, more than 10 percent of homeowners are behind in paying their utility bills.

KUB officials say they want you to know you're not alone. If you're having a hard time, they'll work with you to set up a payment plan.

"We want to work with our customers as much as absolutely possible, and the last thing that we want to do is terminate someone's service,” Fern says.

Many states prohibit utilities from disconnecting service during the winter, making spring and summer the busy time for shut offs.


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