South MS expecting higher power bills from cold snap

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The freezing temperatures mean the price of keeping our homes warm and cozy becomes more expensive. Gulf Coast Community Action Agency helps low income residents make utility payments. Officials there expect to see a 30 percent spike in requests for help.

Officials said when providing payment assistance, first priority goes to disabled, families with small children, and to senior citizens.

Director Dr. Barbara Coatney said, "If we have a senior citizen who has to pay her $300 light bill and not buy her blood pressure medicine, that's not good. In this country, we shouldn't have to choose between our medication and paying our electric bill."

Knowing the strain extreme weather can put on family finances, area power companies all have assistance programs. Mississippi Power officials say many customers don't realize if they receive SSI or Temporary Aid For Needy Families (TANF), they may be eligible for a 57 cent per day discount.

"Obviously everybody is running their heating systems right now, so we are seeing an increased demand on our system right now," said Jeff Shepard, Mississippi Power Spokesperson. "Just like the weather fluctuates, people have ups and downs sometimes with their finances. Unexpected things come about and so these programs are in place to help everybody pay their bills to stay current and stay warm."

As people struggle to stay warm, they shouldn't wait too long to seek help if they need it.

"When you see that you have a bill, bring that bill in. Call in and get an appointment immediately," said Dr. Coatney. "Don't let the bill get two or three months behind and they're ready to turn your service off."

Gulf Coast Community Action Agency services Harrison, Hancock, Stone, George and Greene counties. To learn more about payment assistance, visit:

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