Ky Power and Community Action to help more customers in need

ASHLAND, Ky. – Kentucky Power and Community Action of Kentucky have filed a joint application with the Kentucky Public Service Commission to modify and expand an energy assistance program to aid more low-income families this winter.

In the application filed Friday, Kentucky Power and Community Action asked the PSC to change the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) from a summer and winter program to a winter-only program. The Kentucky Power-funded program has been offered since 2006. The change concentrates financial assistance in the months of January to April when people use more electricity because of cold weather. Increased winter usage also causes higher bills.

If approved, qualifying residential customers with electric heat could receive $115 each of the four designated months under the modifications. Customers with non-electric heat would qualify for $58 a month for four months. In past years, electric customers qualified for $65 a month and non-electric customers qualified for $33 in the winter. Small awards were made in summer to assist with cooling costs. Summer assistance would be discontinued under the plan.

Kentucky Power also proposed renaming the program to the Home Energy Assistance in Reduced Temperatures (HEART) program to eliminate confusion with the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program called LIHEAP. While separate, both assistance programs are administered through Community Action and its local agencies.

“Kentucky Power wholeheartedly believes in assisting low- and fixed-income customers to manage their energy usage and we will not waiver from this commitment,” said Matt Satterwhite, Kentucky Power president and chief operating officer. “By focusing the funds on the winter months, we can provide more customers with greater assistance when they most need it.”

In addition to the HEART program, Kentucky Power has proposed adding a new limited assistance program called Temporary Heating Assistance in Winter (THAW). This program would provide qualifying residential customers with a once-a-year grant of up to $175. THAW is designed to assist customers, such as single parents, seniors on fixed incomes, the recently unemployed, or other customers who need temporary assistance to get through the winter months. The program also would be administered by Community Action on a first come, first served basis until designated funds are depleted.

Both HEART and THAW are funded with customer and company contributions. Customers pay 30 cents a month into the program. Kentucky Power matches those funds dollar for dollar with shareholder money. Together, the contributions generate about $1 million a year to provide heating assistance to about 2,500 customers in eastern Kentucky. Money is divided among customers who heat with electric and non-electric sources, including wood and coal.

Kentucky Power also asked the PSC for permission to create a voluntary assistance fund. Under the Donation HEART Program, customers could make special contributions that also would assist neighbors in need. The company would match customer contributions up to $20,000 a year. Kentucky Power and Community Action asked the Commission to make a decision on the filing by Oct. 31. Community Action begins taking applications for home energy assistance on Nov. 1.

Customers seeking heating assistance should contact their local community action agency. Community Action of Kentucky agencies are:

  • Big Sandy Area Community Action Program. Counties:  Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, Martin and Pike. http://bsacap.org. 606-789-3641.
  • Gateway Community Action Agency. Counties:  Bath, Menifee, Morgan, Montgomery and Rowan. http://gatewaycaa.org. 606-743-3133.
  • LKLP Community Action Council. Counties: Knott, Leslie, Letcher and Perry. http://www.lklp.org. 606-436-8853.
  • Middle Kentucky Community Action Partnership. Counties: Breathitt, Lee, Owsley and Wolfe. http://www.mkcap.org. 606-666-2452.
  • Northeast Kentucky Community Action Agency. Counties:  Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Lawrence and Greenup. http://nkcaa.net. 606-286-4443.

Kentucky Power customers who receive assistance will be enrolled in the budget billing option called Average Monthly Payment (AMP). AMP is 12-month average bill to even out bill spikes.  The average residential Kentucky Power customer uses about 1,300 kWh a month with an average bill of about $168 a month, or about $5.40 a day.

“Overall, our residential rates have stabilized and bills are down for the average customer,” Satterwhite said. “However, there are customers who need help and both HEART and THAW will assist many families. The most important thing customers who are experiencing difficulties can do is contact us or their local Community Action Agency. We make every effort to assist all customers.”

Kentucky Power, with headquarters in Ashland, provides electric service to about 168,000 customers in 20 eastern Kentucky counties, including Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Clay, Elliott, Floyd, Greenup, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Magoffin, Martin, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike and Rowan. Kentucky Power is an operating company in the American Electric Power system, one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S., delivering electricity and custom energy solutions to 5.4 million regulated customers in 11 states.

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