AOL.com | Dawn Allcot
Electric bills could surge by 12% this summer, according to estimates from the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA). By the end of August bills could reach a monthly average of $578, up from $517 last year. In the West and South Central U.S., including Texas, bills could be up to $706 from $642 last year.
Roughly 84 million Americans are under heat advisories — including areas of California, Oregon, and Idaho where it rarely gets this hot. Relief organizations that provide financial assistance for utility bill payments are struggling under the demand.
“It’s only July and we’re already seeing almost 2,000 people calling every week, which is very unusual,” Denise Stepto, chief communications officer at Denver’s Energy Outreach Colorado, told NBC News.
Typically, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) offered through the Department of Health and Human Services focuses primarily on winter fuel costs. This federal program, which is administered locally by states — much like SNAP — helps low-income households pay to heat or cool their homes.
However, funds are limited and often run out early in the year. On average, only 20% of the households who qualify receive assistance through LIHEAP, according to the U.S. government’s Office of Community Services.