Special to Atmore News
If you live in Alabama and are low-income, age 60 or older and/or disabled, programs are available to help pay utilities and improve the energy efficiency of your home.
* Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federal effort to help millions of vulnerable Americans pay energy bills. The program is funded by Congress to assist families near or below the poverty level. In Alabama, LIHEAP is administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).
* Project SHARE (Service to Help Alabamians with Relief on Energy), a program established in 1982 to provide assistance to low-income elderly and disabled people needing help with their heating and cooling bills. Administered by the Salvation Army of Greater Birmingham, Project SHARE is a partnership involving Alabama Power and electric cooperatives across the state.
* The Alabama Business Charitable Trust Fund (ABC Trust), a nonprofit organization created by Alabama Power stockholders in 1992 to supplement energy-assistance efforts. The trust works with community action agencies to help cover the cost of heating and cooling for low-income families and those struggling with temporary financial problems.
Funding and resources supporting these programs come from a variety of sources, including Alabama Power and its independent charitable organization, the Alabama Power Foundation. Tequila Smith, president of the foundation and Alabama Power’s vice president of Charitable Giving, said the funding often supports low-income families in Alabama who typically wouldn’t qualify for federal energy assistance.
“As a company and a good corporate citizen, Alabama Power understands the challenges that many Alabama families with limited resources face every day,” Smith said. “That’s why we established the Alabama Business Charitable Trust more than 25 years ago, working with partners to assist with the energy needs of low-income Alabamians.”
To apply for financial assistance with utility bills, contact the Community Action Agency or social services agency serving your county. Customers wanting to request energy assistance through Project SHARE may apply at their local Salvation Army office or by calling 205-328-2420.
Improving energy efficiency at home
Weatherization assistance is available to low-income households in all 67 Alabama counties.
Thousands of economically distressed Alabamians are eligible for home energy efficiency improvements through the Alabama Weatherization Assistance Program (AWAP), an ADECA service funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ADECA contracts with community action agencies and the Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission to deliver weatherization assistance in all 67 Alabama counties.
Contractors improve the energy efficiency of a home through a variety of services, such as installing attic, wall and floor insulation, sealing ductwork, performing heating and air-conditioning system tune-ups, repairing leaky windows and doors and replacing incandescent lightbulbs with more efficient ones. Health and safety checks are also performed on each home.