KUB customers should expect higher bills, help available

KUB customers should expect higher bills, help available

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By ANN KEIL
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - KUB officials are getting get lots of calls about increased utility bills from December. So are agencies that provide home energy assistance to families in need. 

"We have seen an uptick in the requests for energy assistance," said Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee official Cecelia Waters.

She says chilly temperatures along with a still-crippled economy have made it impossible for countless families to pay their utility bills. 

"We could have someone who was recently laid off, who's lost hours on the job, and we see a lot of that," Waters said.

The CAC has two programs in place that will pay a family's utility bill for one month if they make no more than about $44,000 a year.

One program provides emergency assistance. It's outside help that KUB officials believe is becoming a more important resource.

"These bills going out now are seeing 25 and 30 days of cold temperatures so that will be reflected on the bill," said KUB customer service manager Dale Maddox.

He offered a breakdown with a closer look at the utility bills for KUB's average residential customer.

When comparing the bills from November to December, an average customer could expect to pay about an additional $80.

"We want everyone to call us as soon as you get your bill if you don't think you'll be able to pay it," Maddox said.

He says if a customer gets a final notice of payment in the mail and then gets a notice at their door, their gas and electric could be shut off on the following day unless there are extreme temperatures.

For customers who cannot pay, one option is the balanced payment plan. KUB will average out a customer's consumption over a year.

The utility will also refer those who qualify to organizations like CAC. "We do have funds. We do want to serve," Waters said.

She says the CAC just received additional funds so it will be able to help even more families.

Last year, CAC helped more than 10,000 households.

Waters says programs similar programs to the energy assistance program offered in the Knoxville area exist in counties across East Tennessee.

LCUB also offers its customers a plan that will average out a customer's bill to avoid big charges in the winter and summer months.

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