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Assistance Payments Up Dramatically in Colorado

Energy Outreach Colorado (EOC) is awarding grants totaling more than $13.5 million this winter to nearly 150 Colorado organizations to increase energy affordability for limited income families and seniors, including about $6.7 million for energy assistance.  

The 2010-11 grants are going to emergency assistance organizations such as Salvation Army and Seniors, Inc. for low-income energy assistance payments; to affordable housing organizations to weatherize multi-family housing; and to non-profits to lower facility energy costs.  In many locations, EOC is collaborating with partner organizations including the Colorado Governor's Energy Office, Xcel Energy, Atmos Energy, SourceGas, and the City of Denver's Office of Strategic Partnerships.

According to a recent news report, Energy Outreach Colorado and the Colorado LIHEAP are responding to a dramatic increase in requests for energy assistance this winter among Coloradans hard-hit by the lingering economic crisis. These agencies report that, between October 2010 and January 2011, compared to the same period in 2009:

  • Energy assistance funds distributed by Energy Outreach Colorado increased 32 percent, from $832,000 to $1,100,000.
  • The number of overdue energy bills paid by EOC partner agencies increased 25 percent, from 2,682 to 3,355.
  • To date, the number of households approved to receive energy assistance from LIHEAP has increased 13 percent, from 81,352 to 91,652.
  • The average amount in energy assistance that EOC is providing per qualifying household is up 6 percent, from $310 to $328.

In a survey conducted by the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, the Colorado LIHEAP estimated its caseload will increase by 10 percent this fiscal year over last (143,000 households to 130,000 during FY 10). Its average benefit has fallen from $510 last winter to $400 this winter.

Energy Outreach is an independent, non-profit organization that raises funds through foundation, corporate, government and individual donations.  More information is available at www.energyoutreach.org.

SOURCE: Energy Outreach Colorado, newspapers