October 27, 2003 -- Posted 7:00pm
CRAIGHEAD CO. - It will take more of your cold cash to stay warm this winter. Natural gas prices are 40% higher than they were a year ago, and a cold winter could drive prices even higher. Many Region 8 residents can't afford the increase, but they do have a place to go for help: Crowley's Ridge Development Council.
"There's a lot of people, you know, that probably fall through the gaps and stuff, because I always fell through the gaps," said Dusty Elliott.
Elliott got rid of her cable and telephone recently, but still couldn't afford to pay her energy bill. She found help at CRDC through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program and another project called Assurance 16.
Beth Pigg, CRDC Family Services Manager, said, "Instead of them coming back every year with the same problem, while we have them in a program, we can help them make changes in their home to lower the utility bill."
Any kind of equipment related to energy conservation up to $500 in cost is purchased for the 120 to 150 annual graduates of Assurance 16. Elliott chose to have the money put towards her energy bill. She cut her monthly average charges by more than half when she stopped using her air conditioner this summer and incorporated things she learned in the classes.
A federal grant totaling $4,355,000 is headed to Arkansas to help more low income families with increasing gas and electric bills. Jackie Burns, CRDC Emergency Services Manager, said, "It's just basically based on a first come first serve other than the pre-approved applications that go out."