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As Utility Bills Rise, Resources in CT Can Help Older Adults

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Wednesday, June 29, 2022   

Starting Friday, Connecticut residents may start to see a sharp increase in energy costs just as summer gets into gear and inflation hits people hard, but resources are available, especially for older adults who are feeling the pinch.

Connecticut's electric standard service generation rate is expected to increase significantly in July depending on the energy provider, with the biggest spike at more than 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.

John Erlingheuser, director of advocacy and community outreach at AARP Connecticut, said this is a particular challenge for people on fixed incomes.

"Older residents with a lot of medical conditions need electricity to stay cool in the summer," Erlingheuser pointed out. "Many times, they'll find themselves in a position of either cutting back on medication, or cutting back on electricity or cutting back on food, in order to make ends meet."

Erlingheuser noted Connecticut residents pay the highest electric prices in the lower 48 states. One resource available for those who need help paying utility bills is Operation Fuel. Before applying, a household needs to gather proof of the last four weeks of income for all household members, the name of their fuel vendor or a utility bill and payment history.

Erlingheuser added two important programs have an upcoming deadline of June 30: the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program and the COVID-19 Payment Plan.

He emphasized the payment plan can help with catching up past-due balances and current bills.

"You don't need to have any money up front to get in this program, and it could be spread out over 24 months," Erlingheuser observed. "They waive all the fees and interest in the calculation of your monthly payments. So, these are important programs, and we would encourage folks to get to them while they still exist."

You can contact your utility providers to learn more about specific payment plans.

Connecticut customers who have medical conditions also are qualified for protections from utility shut-offs due to lack of payment. They can ask their doctor to certify they have a serious illness or life-threatening condition on the utility's internet portal.

Disclosure: AARP Connecticut contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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