LEAP offers help with high energy bills | PostIndependent.com

LEAP offers help with high energy bills

Garfield County may be sitting on one of the richest natural gas fields in the country, but so far that hasn’t helped lower skyrocketing energy prices for its residents.Earlier this month, Xcel Energy, which supplies electricity to Glenwood Springs, announced it has applied to the Public Utilities Commission to raise monthly utility rates by over 30 percent.According to Xcel, typical monthly bills for homeowners will see an average bill this winter of $68.69 or $15.80 more than last year. A typical small-business owner will pay $134.49 or $31.97 more.The company filed for the rate increase due to the rising cost of the natural gas it uses to power its electrical generation plants.While most of us will have to find a way to meet those bills this winter, there is help for low income folks.The Low Income Energy Assistance Program – LEAP – pays a portion of energy bills. The federal program is administered by the county, said county department of human services director Lynn Renick.Beginning Nov. 1, people who are eligible can apply for between $100 and $700 worth of monthly assistance, said Gail Wilson, LEAP technician for the county.According to Wilson, 700 people applied for LEAP assistance last winter in Garfield County. Given the expected jump in heating bills, that number is likely to go up this winter.LEAP assistance is available from November through April, Wilson said.”Anybody can call or come in to request an application,” Wilson said, but they must meet specific criteria to be eligible, including income, household size and type of fuel used for heating.For example, a household of three people has a monthly income limit of $2,481 gross to be eligible, Wilson said. Payments are made directly to the utility company.Although the program does not make automatic adjustments for energy rate increases, payments did increase a number of times last winter, Wilson said.To receive an application, call (866) 432-8435.Wilson also noted that she will not accept applications before Nov. 1.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com

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