Electricity assistance offered

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 5, 2012

As the temperature increases, so does the anxiety of many residents who worry how they will pay their electric bills.

With temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, PowerSouth’s Mark Ingram reported the co-op exceeded its budgeted output for the day by 119 megawatts on Saturday and 20 megawatts on Sunday. PowerSouth is the local generation and transmission cooperative that provides wholesale power to 20 electric cooperatives and four municipalities in Alabama in Northwest Florida, including Covington Electric Cooperative, the City of Andalusia and the City of Opp.

“We didn’t encounter any issues meeting the peak demand for this past weekend,” Ingram said. “We’re confident that our generation and standby reserves can meet any increased electricity demand linked to hot weather.”

But while electric companies may not have issues with meeting the local electricity demand because of the heat, locals may soon have problems paying the associated costs with cooling off because of the temps.

Representatives with the agencies offering cooling assistance in the summer know they will be hit hard with requests to help pay electric bills in the coming months.

Don Johnson, executive director of the Covington County Chapter of the American Red Cross, said he pushed back the distribution of summer cooling assistance through the Project Share program by one month because of climbing temps.

“We normally take appointments in June and distribute in July, but not this year,” Johnson said. “We’re going to offer assistance sometime in August because July electric bills are going to be terrible because of this triple digit heat.”

Johnson said he plans to hold sign-ups at the end of July and set appointments for assistance either the first or second week of August.

Liz Seay, director of the Organized Community Action Program, said during the next two months, the agency’s low-income heating/energy assistance program (LIHEAP) will benefit 700 to 900 local households.

“We held our sign-up in June, but I know the bad bills will come out in July,” Seay said. “Unfortunately, we’ve already allotted what we can spend.”

For those who have yet to apply for cooling assistance, help also is available through the Salvation Army. Those applying for services cannot have received assistance through either Project Share or OCAP. To apply, call 3334-222-0112.