Now is the time to apply for Energy Assistance

There is no doubt that Wisconsin winter has settled in for the Milwaukee area. With the cold temperatures and biting wind comes soaring utility bills for many area residents.

The Energy Assistance Program operated by the Social Development Commission (SDC) in Milwaukee County offers help for income eligible households having trouble paying those heating bills. The program provides financial assistance towards outstanding payments as well as helping families work out a payment schedule with utility providers.

Energy Assistance program manager Tara Pray notes that now is an excellent time for families to apply for the program. January and February see a relative slowdown in the number of applicants visiting Energy Assistance offices. Traffic, she says, will pick up in March as the date for the utility cut-off moratorium approaches. She urges residents needing the program to come in now to ensure quick service.

So far during the 2009-2010 heating season, an increased number of families have applied for the program. The 19 percent jump in applications for the fi rst three months of the program can be attributed to both the struggling economy and to expanded income guidelines that have made more people eligible. Last year, the SDC program served nearly 50,000 households in Milwaukee County.

To find out more about the program as well as the locations and hours of program sites, call the Energy Assistance hotline at 414-906-2800. That information can also be obtained by visiting the SDC website at www.cr-sdc.org, clicking on the “Our Programs” tab and then on the “Energy Assistance” page.