Energy assistance running low for Knox County

Energy assistance running low for Knox County

Posted:
At the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee hundreds of energy assistance applications sit in stacks, waiting to be processed. At the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee hundreds of energy assistance applications sit in stacks, waiting to be processed.
"I'm just financially having a really hard time," Jamie McMillan said. "I'm just financially having a really hard time," Jamie McMillan said.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - When temperatures fall, heating costs rise. It's only the beginning of January and already some local families are having trouble paying their energy bills.

At the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee hundreds of energy assistance applications sit in stacks, waiting to be processed. They're all from families who need help paying their power bills, like Jamie McMillan.

"I'm just financially having a really hard time," McMillan said.

She says her heat and lights were supposed to be turned off Wednesday, but she and her five children got a temporary reprieve due to the holiday.

"I have somebody actually sitting at the house right now if KUB comes, to tell them that I'm trying to get something worked out," she said.

She is applying for the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). There are two types, regular and crisis.

The CAC had $137,000 in crisis funding to distribute starting October 1. That money was all gone just eight days later, helping 364 families.

The CAC got $1.2 million in other funds also starting October 1, but only $87,000 is left for the next nine months unless the federal government provides more funding. Even if that happens, it won't be soon enough to help McMillan. Besides, processing the application could take up to three months. 

Each county has their own community action agency or similar organization distributing available LIHEAP funds to those who qualify.        

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