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Steps Offered to Keep Utilities Connected During Downturn

More than 600,000 Coloradans filed for unemployment through the first week in July, and many residents who have fallen behind on utility bills now can get financial help. (Pixabay)
More than 600,000 Coloradans filed for unemployment through the first week in July, and many residents who have fallen behind on utility bills now can get financial help. (Pixabay)
July 21, 2020

DENVER -- Stay-at-home orders have led to a spike in home utility bills, and as the heat of summer settles in, Energy Outreach Colorado is working to make sure people don't see their electricity and other services shut off.

Denise Stepto, chief communications officer with the group, said now that the state's moratorium on utility disconnections has expired, it's a good time to get new funds to Coloradans that have been economically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, especially those who have not been able to get help so far.

"These are people who are unemployed, underemployed, have gotten COVID themselves," Stepto said. "These are individuals who are ineligible for other forms of assistance, people who could not receive unemployment insurance."

Stepto said if you're behind on your bills, the first step is to contact your utility company to make a payment plan. She said that will buy you time. Next, she said Colorado residents should apply for assistance online at energyoutreach.org.

Energy Outreach Colorado also can connect people with food assistance, health care and other programs.

More than 600,000 Coloradans have filed for unemployment through the first week in July, according to the Denver Post. And Congress has not yet moved to extend federal jobless relief, which is set to expire July 31. Stepto said the middle of the summer is not the time to have your utilities cut off.

"The heat can be just as dangerous to your health and safety as it would be if it was cold weather," she said. "And so to keep your home in a healthy and safe way, you have to keep your utilities on."

Those eligible for help with their bills will be tapping funds raised through Energy Outreach Colorado's Home Energy Relief Fund, and nearly $5 million made available through the CARES Act after Colorado lawmakers passed HB-1412.

Disclosure: Energy Outreach Colorado contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Housing/Homelessness, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO