Utility Bill Assistance



Central Electric Cooperative (CEC) Family Fund assistance program

When all else fails, and no other options are available, Central Electric Cooperative Family Fund may be able to help. The program was created to provide short term utility bill assistance to customers who need some one time, emergency support. A credit will be placed on the households’ utility account, and the funds for the Family Fund program come from customer donations.

While the amount of financial aid for a families utility bill will vary, this is a small scale program. Some other options, like LIHEAP, can offer hundreds of dollars of assistance. But Central Electric Cooperative Family Fund is not like that. It may give tens of dollars worth of credits when there is funding.

The reason that Family Fund is more limited is that it uses donations from the public to pay the energy bills. It is run separately in each county it is offered in, so there are various charities and social service offices too. So the money to pay for it comes from customers, employees, local charities, fund raisers (from boy scouts, churches, etc.) and other sources. Basically it is the community banding together to help less fortunate customers of CEC keep their power on. Without the generosity of all those people and groups, as well as partnerships from social service agencies, Family Fund would not exist at all.

How much and how is assistance provided?

This is one reason why only a small amount of utility bill assistance will be paid out to those that qualify. It is also way there is a formal application process that involves a review of the applicant’s income as well as proof of hardship, such as job loss, illness, or whatever the crisis is. The goal is to ensure that CEC Family Fund only helps the most deserving customers and not those who may have zero chance to pay their own energy bills again in the future.






The donations to the program fund credits. This is what is applied to a customer’s energy bill. Cash is not given to the household. All credits will pay down some of what is due on the utility bill, with the customer also needing to pay some of the balance off. So the program involves participation from the customer who needs financial help with their energy bills as well as some funds from the company.

Note it is for emergencies only. If the applicant is not otherwise financially stable (or on the verge of it), then Central Electric Cooperative Family Fund may not be the program for them. As most of the donated money goes for those facing a one time crisis. Examples may be an illness; short term reduction in work hours; unexpected expense such as car repair or death of a loved one; a senior who missed a social security check but expect another one; and examples like that. Any CEC customer that needs long term utility bill assistance should not apply to this program.

Instead they need to try LIHEAP, or maybe speak to a community action agency for suggestions. That being said, if someone is waiting for their first grant from LIHEAP, then maybe Family Fund can be used to fill the gap and give short term support to the customer.

The point is Central Electric Cooperative Family Fund is for short term emergency. The company, as well partners, use the funds wisely to target a specific need. For more information, to apply, or donate, dial your county social service office, or try 211.




By: Jon McNamara


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