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Utility costs expected to soar, LIHEAP assistance in high demand

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 10:52 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - MidAmerican Energy says customers can expect their total bills to increase this winter by 46-96%.

According to MidAmerican, natural gas market prices have more than doubled from this time last year. Increased global demand coupled with limited production and inventory have heavily increased the cost for MidAmerican to purchase the natural gas it delivers to its customers.

“We were shocked. I think we all expected that there was going to be an increase in the utility costs, we are seeing an increase in everything. To the extent that it was going to be 46 to 96 percent, it was definitely higher than what we thought,” said Ron Lund, Community Services Director at Project NOW.

Project NOW says its low-income home energy assistance program, otherwise known as LIHEAP, has already received more than 1,500 applications since September 1.

“If the utility costs continue to rise, we hit a polar vortex, that LIHEAP benefit just isn’t going to go as far as it normally would. But it is a significant dollar amount for that program,” said Lund.

To serve more in need this winter, Humility Homes and Services is increasing the capacity of the organization’s winter emergency shelter by 70 percent. 130 total beds will be available.

“We are seeing higher numbers this year and have consistently since the beginning of the pandemic, especially with utility bills,” says Ashley Velez, Executive Director at Humility Homes.

Velez says with the end of the eviction moratorium and higher fuel and utility costs, help will be in high demand.

“Towards the end of winter or spring is when we think it’s going to be the biggest impact,” Velez said.

Any person who is unsheltered will be able to access the winter emergency shelter through Humility Homes and Services starting on December 1. Individuals experiencing homelessness will be able to go directly to the shelter located at 1016 W. 5th Street in Davenport. The winter shelter opens at 9 p.m. each night and closes at 7 a.m. in the morning. The closing of the seasonal shelter will occur when the weather conditions are optimal around April 15, 2022.

According to Iowa Legal Aid, if you qualify for LIHEAP assistance your gas and electricity cannot be shut off from November 1 through April 1 under the winter moratorium. As of April 1, utility companies can stop service if a bill is past due or a payment plan hasn’t been arranged.

To find out if you qualify for LIHEAP or apply for assistance through Project NOW, visit Project NOW’s website.

Utility funds are also available through MidAmerican’s I CARE program.

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