Lasting cold snap causing heat bills to go up

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by Andrea Lutz

NWCN.com

Posted on January 22, 2013 at 10:43 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 8:08 PM

BOISE – An historic cold snap has been lingering in the Treasure Valley for weeks.

You may be finding it hard to keep your family warm, while keeping your heat bill at financially-manageable place.

According to a moratorium -- Idaho Power can’t shut off your power, if you cannot pay your power bill -- but that moratorium only lasts until February.

When February ends, many people have outstanding balances that are too high to pay.

However, Lynette Berriochoa with Idaho Power says there is a way around that.

“It happens every winter you know, people have tough times,” she said.

Have you looked at your power bill lately and thought, 'why so high?'

“Of course everybody's heating bill is going to go up for a longer period of time. This is unusual,” said Berriochoa.

Berriochoa says the best thing anyone can do is just call and ask what the options are available. The customer could qualify for what’s called, Power Share.

So who qualifies?

“It includes homes with children, elderly or people who may be sick or disabled,” she said.

“Regardless of their situation if they will call us we will be glad to do whatever we can to work with them.”

That’s where the Treasure Valley Salvation Army comes in.

“We try to help them with a portion of their bill,” said Major John Stennett.

 

The Salvation Army reports in the month of December--nearly 200 households in Ada County received help with their power bill, Stennett said its critical help.

 

“We try to prevent people from becoming homeless; we also try to prevent people from freezing to death,” said Major Stennett.

However, the help is for emergency situations only and there is a $300 cap on just how much the Salvation Army can help with a heat bill.

“It’s because there are so many people that need the help,” he said.

Berriochoa advises using some winter-wise tips-to get you through this cold spell, if you don’t qualify for the power sharing program.

“If someone has a programmable thermostat that’s a great way to go,” said Berriochoa.

“It’s more efficient to let it cool down and then let it warm up it back up, when you need it than to keep it constant at 70 (degrees).”

Last year alone-- through Idaho Power stakeholders and donations from their customers--over $350,000 dollars were given away in project share funds--keeping Treasure Valley families warm through the winter.

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