Help Available for High Utility Bills - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/11/03

Help Available for High Utility Bills

Soaring temperatures and higher utility bills are forcing hundreds to go without electricity. Lubbock Power & Light says they have over 2,000 delinquent customers and LP&L cut power to many of them over the weekend but help is available. Since Saturday afternoon LP&L has fielded calls from hundreds of customers. The burden now moves to the state, which is offering financial help to those who need it most.

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As temperatures rise, so do utility bills. And hundreds of Lubbock residents are finding it hard to make ends meet. Kimberly Squires power has been cut off for three and a half weeks now. "I'm trying to get it turned back on," says Squires.

But Squires isn't the only one. LP&L Collection Supervisor Guyle Roberson says there are hundreds more going without power each month. He says about 350 accounts go delinquent each day. But disconnecting customers is a last resort. "We worked 889 accounts that were delinquent on Saturday. They may have been disconnected they may have come in and just paid," says Roberson.

"That's the last thing we want to do is disconnect. I mean we'll accept payments at the door still," says Roberson. He adds they give plenty of notice before power is cut off. Meanwhile, calls are pouring into local community agencies for help. "Fortunately we got it now because a lot of folks are hurting because of high summer bills," says Jeff Malpiede of Catholic Family Services.

Thanks to a state grant, Catholic Family Services is helping low income families and the disabled pay their utility bills. "A number of them have hit the wall in July and now that bills are coming in they're maybe one or two months behind already and with July they're even farther behind," said Malpeide.

Malpeide says 200 calls came in on Monday, so they've had to start a waiting list. "Our case manager will work with them and formulate a budget and a plan so that gradually they'll be able to pay more and more of their bills. The idea is get them gradually to assume the responsibility for their utilities."

To see if you qualify for financial assistance for your utilities you can call Catholic Family Services at (806) 765-8475. Or Neighborhood House at (806) 741-0459. You must make an appointment and go through a screening. If you qualify you can receive help in as little as a few days.

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