Dollar Energy Fund, W.Va. Power team up for utility aid
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A nonprofit organization that provides utility assistance to the needy is teaming up with the West Virginia Power to help raise funds for the program this summer.
Representatives of the Dollar Energy Fund of West Virginia are hoping to raise money during the baseball season to provide utility assistance to families with income of up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
Money can be donated at Appalachian Power Park's box office or at the Fan Assistance Center, said Rachel Coffman, Appalachian region program manager for Dollar Energy Fund.
Coffman is hoping to raise funds for utility assistance during the hotter months, she said.
"It's very important that we raise awareness that this is a program that is needed in the summer and not just the colder months," Coffman said. "There's just as much need for this program in the summer as in the winter."
Families may need assistance for air conditioning, especially when temperatures soar in July and August. Many residents realized what it was like to do without cooled air last summer during the massive power outages after the derecho, Coffman said.
The money provided to applicants has steadily dropped since 2009-2010, when $1.5 million was allocated to participants, according to figures provided by Coffman.
A total of $1.3 million was allocated in 2010-2011 and another $1.3 million in 2011-2012. Coffman expects to allocate a little more than $1 million this year.
The reason for the drop is a decline in donations, Coffman said. However, she is hoping the new push to raise funds during the summer will help.
"The demand just keeps going up every year," she said.
A family of three can have income of up to $29,205 a year and still qualify for the program. The income limit for a single person is $17,235; for a family of two, $23,265; for a family of four, $35,325; and for a family of five, $41,355.
The program provides up to $500 in assistance for three utilities. For example, a qualifying individual could obtain up to $500 to help pay heating costs. They then could obtain up to $500 for a power bill and up to $500 for a water bill, Coffman said. A family can receive a maximum of $1,500 during the program year, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
About 67 percent of applicants are women.
"A lot of those are single moms," Coffman said.
About 59 percent of households applying for the program have children, and 8 percent are seniors.
To apply, visit www.dollarenergy.org or one of the partnering agencies like Covenant House and Mountain Mission.
Prospective applicants can also call 1-800-683-7036. Anyone wishing to donate can call Coffman at 304-549-8991.