Hundreds line up for energy assistance

pramati@macon.comJanuary 10, 2012 

Hundreds of people lined up as early as Monday morning outside of St. Paul AME Church on Shurling Drive with hopes of getting assistance with their energy bills Tuesday morning.

The federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program was delayed about a month this year as state and local officials waited for Congress to approve funding. Once the funds were approved, the Macon-Bibb County Economic Opportunity Council was able to set up six dates to help residents get some funding to help pay their energy bills.

Jimmie Samuel, executive director of the EOC, said about 250 people received assistance Tuesday. To qualify, they must be below a certain income threshold and be able to provide documentation that they are U.S. citizens, he said.

If a person qualifies for assistance, he or she will give the energy bill to the EOC for the agency to pay off, Samuel said. The average amount per person ranges from $310 to $350.

Samuel said Congress cut the program’s funds nationwide by more than half. Last year, the agency received about $2 million for energy assistance; this year, the EOC received just over $1 million.

The program will continue Wednesday at St. Paul AME Church, 2501 Shurling Drive, beginning at 7 a.m. The EOC also will have the program at Union Baptist Church, 1137 Kitchens St., on Jan. 18 and Jan. 20, and at Unionville Baptist Church, 3837 Houston Ave. on Jan. 24-25 beginning at 7 a.m.

For more about this story, check out Wednesday’s edition of The Telegraph.