More people in US need help with utility bills
By Jason Hidalgo
The nation is on pace for a record number of unpaid utility bills this year, with state agencies facing shortages to maintain assistance programs. In Northern Nevada, many residents said they have been shocked after opening their electric bills in the past few months. Lauren Williams, a clerk for a textile company in Reno, recently got a 10-day notice for a $121 bill. "I have no idea on how to pay this bill. I will be calling and making arrangements like I have the last couple of times.
"The rise in the number of people falling behind on their utility bills is the result of a slowing economy marked by rising fuel prices and a struggling housing market, said the Washington, D.C.-based National Energy Assistance Directors' Association. In its latest report, the association of directors who oversee state energy assistance programs also found an increase in the number of families receiving energy assistance nationwide.
"With the way things are, I have to choose between paying my rent, which is the No. 1 choice, then food and then the power," Williams said.
Lisa Jordan had her power cut off recently after also experiencing problems with her payment plan. The plan required Jordan to pay $100 installments."I had received some overtime, and so instead of paying the $100 I owed, I paid $300," Jordan said. "They shut me off the following Friday because I didn't send them another $100 that week. The power company is very hard to work with and does not take making payment arrangements very well. I had to come up with money I did not have just because I made a larger payment the week before."