Low in Utility Bill Assistance

December 18, 2005--Posted at 11:15 p.m. CST

ARKANSAS-- More than a half-million Arkansans qualify for help paying their utility bills, but assistance from Arkansas agencies and private utilities ranks next-to-last nationally.
That's according to the Boston-based consumer advocacy group, the National Consumer Law Center. According to a center survey of non-federal funds spent on energy assistance, nine states provides an average of more than 70 dollars in state funding or utility donations for each person eligible last year. That compares to an average $0.93 per eligible Arkansan last year.

Only New Mexico offered less -- an average $0.69 per eligible person. But New Mexico's numbers should grow because of new state legislation that provides 25.5 million dollars for energy assistance.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)