East Texas non-profits attempting to help people struggling with electric bills

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Thursday night, we heard from East Texans angry about unexpected high electric bills. Some bills are double, close to triple, than what's expected.

Paying them is tough on most all customers. For those on fixed incomes, it's next to impossible. Non-profit agencies are attempting to help out.

The phone is ringing a lot at Greater East Texas Community Action. Most of the calls are from people needing energy assistance.

"We didn't even foresee them having such high electric bills," Beverly Jones, the Community Action energy assistance coordinator. "Even $200 on a set income of $710 to $730 is a major hit on them."

Fortunately, Community Action has $2.6 million allocated for energy bill assistance. The agency also receives money from power companies earmarked for assistance. All the money is for qualifying clients in a 12-county region.

"It hasn't run dry for awhile, but there's always that possibility," Jones said. "And in the past when it has run dry sometimes we can go out and ask our funding sources and they will give us an extra allocation."

Another non-profit, Love In the Name of Christ isn't quite as flexible with its revenue.

"Our utility money is completely gone," said Patti Goodrum, the director of Love INC. "We have applied for some FEMA funds and hope to get that soon for utility help, but all our funds are directly from the community."

The Salvation Army is also helping. Its funds are also limited.

All the non-profits will help where they can, but they remain concerned. A second wave of high electric bills is expected for the next billing period.

Households in a crisis situation are encouraged to apply soon with energy assistance agencies.

Donations to Love INC or Salvation Army can be designated specifically for energy assistance.

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