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CO Lawmakers Energize Low-Income Families a While Longer

May 13, 2008

Denver, CO - The Colorado General Assembly has finally wound down for the year, but with energy costs up, many are reflecting on what lawmakers did this session to help Coloradans who are struggling to pay their power bills.

Skip Arnold, executive director of Energy Outreach Colorado, says legislation passed in the final days of the session comes at a critical time. It would extend the state's energy assistance program by two years, just as the cost of natural gas is expected to climb significantly in the coming months.

"We'll see that increase putting additional burdens on low-income households, with even more of them likely needing assistance next year."

Arnold reports his organization already has experienced a 15 to 17 percent increase in the number of households asking for help paying their utility bills. He points out that more than one in five Colorado households qualifies for assistance, a figure that is representative of the tough economic times.

"It extends well beyond just the utility bill. It affects their medical care, as well as the ability to buy food and other necessities."

The bill, HB 1387, currently awaits Governor Ritter's signature. It was sponsored by Representative Bernie Buscher of Grand Junction and Senator Jennifer Veiga of Denver.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO