Monday, December 13, 2010

Mid-Southerners Brace for High Heating Bills Amid Early Winter Weather

From Channel 24...

Mid-Southerners Brace for High Heating Bills Amid Early Winter Weather
Channel 24: Reported by: Jackie Orozco

MEMPHIS, TN- Shelby County leaders are keeping a close eye on the weather and urging people to find a warm place to stay. But keeping warm means increased heating costs.

That’s what 52-year old Dorthy Perkins of midtown Memphis has been dealing with for the past couple of months.

"I have no income at all," she said. Perkins has been unemployed for 6 years and she has a long list of medical problems.

"My back is out, my feet are in bad shape, and my knees are bad. I'm just broke down," Perkins said.

She does not get any disability just help from her family and friends. Perkins said it's even harder trying to pay her utility bill. Her last bill was more than $300.

“I had to go down there to get a partial payment plan for my light bill to keep it from getting cut off, so that works for me,” she said.

MLGW has several payment options for struggling families like Perkins. The utility has been receiving more calls for help during the winter too. That's why it encourages people to watch how they use their heat.

"Set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower, every degree above that could add up to 4-percent on your bill," said Memphis Light Gas and Water spokesman Glen Thomas.

Besides worrying about the utility bill, Perkins tries to find food to put on the table. Just a few days ago, she was one of 400 needy families helped by New Bethel Temple Church in Midtown.

"Every little help I get, helps me. I've been really blessed with the help that I do get," said Perkins.

She's using the donated canned food to make stew for Sunday dinner. Despite all her financial troubles, Perkins always tries to smile and make it through another day.

"I have my smile, that's my glow, I talk to my dog that’s my glow, and then I just go to the door look outside and say, ‘thank you Lord I made it to the door.’ I just have a lot to be thankful for," said Perkins.

Starting December 15 through January 14, 2011 MLGW will not cut off your heat if you cannot pay your bill. The utility also has another program that deals with cold temperatures. If it drops to 32 degrees or lower for more than 24 hours, MLGW will not shut off anyone’s heat.

Besides turning down the thermostat to save money MLGW says check your home for any signs that you may be losing heat. Some hot spots include your windows and doors.

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