March 7, 2018
ASHLAND, Ky., March 7, 2018 – Updates to Kentucky Power’s Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) will nearly double the number of low-income families who can be helped in 2018.
A recent order from the Kentucky Public Service Commission increased customer contributions to the HEAP program from 15 cents to 30 cents a month. Kentucky Power agreed to match that contribution dollar for dollar with shareholder funds. Together, the program will generate nearly $1 million this year to provide heating and cooling assistance to about 2,500 in the region.
“Kentucky Power wholeheartedly believes in assisting low- and fixed-income customers manage their energy usage and we will not waiver from this commitment,” said Matt Satterwhite’ Kentucky Power president and chief operating officer. “These funds will help many families in the near-term while we remain focused on leading economic development in eastern Kentucky as the long-term solution to help all customers and address poverty in the region.”
The Kentucky Power HEAP program is separate from the federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program called LIHEAP. While separate, both programs are administered through Community Action of Kentucky. These agencies are Big Sandy Community Action (Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, Martin and Pike counties); Gateway Community Action (Morgan and Rowan counties); Leslie, Knott, Letcher and Perry Community Action (Leslie, Knott, Letcher and Perry counties); Middle Kentucky Community Action (Breathitt and Owsley counties); and Northeast Kentucky Community Action (Boyd, Carter, Greenup, Elliott and Lawrence counties). Customers seeking assistance should contact their local community action agency.
HEAP funds are distributed to customers who meet income requirements set by the community action agencies. Heating assistance is available for the months of December to March, while cooling assistance is available from July to September. Money is divided among customers who heat with both electric and non-electric sources, including wood and coal. Electric heating customers receive 85 percent of the funds. Non-heating customers receive 15 percent.
The real issue facing customers with higher than average bills in the coldest months is the broken heating systems and lack of insulation and weatherization in the homes, Satterwhite said. In recognition of this fact, Kentucky Power and the American Electric Power Foundation also recently awarded a $50,000 grant to Christian Appalachian Project provide assistance in basic home repair and weatherization for those in need. Weatherization improvements can dramatically reduce customer energy consumption and bills. Kentucky Power also is looking at other ways to revise the HEAP program offerings to shift focus on these weatherization needs in the region to help more people.
Customers also are encouraged to consider signing up for the budget billing option called Average Monthly Payment (AMP). AMP is 12-month average bill to even out winter heating and summer cooling bill spikes.
“After talking with customers, we recently adapted the AMP program to make it easier for those most in need of help to sign up,” Satterwhite said. “The most important thing customers can do is contact us. We make every effort to assist all customers.”
Kentucky Power, based in Ashland, provides electric service to about 168,000 customers in 20 eastern Kentucky counties. It is an operating company in the AEP system.