COLORADO SPRINGS — As temperatures drop many people are soon going to see their utility bills rise. While money remains tight for many people affected by inflation, a high heating bill is the latest thing to affect consumers.
This may bring an ultimatum for some: choosing to keep the heat on or saving money. Thankfully, there are ways individuals and families can get help on a portion of their utility bills. Colorado's Low-Income Assistance Program (LEAP) is a federally funded program to help pay those bills during the winter. Last winter over 11,000 people were approved for LEAP assistance in El Paso County, with around 9,000 living in Colorado Springs.
Those making less than 60% of the state's median income level qualify for help this year. For example, a family of four has to make less than $5,539 per month to be eligible.
Danielle Nieves, a spokesperson for Colorado Springs Utilities, said the market for natural gas is volatile right now, with many factors affecting its price.
"Right now, natural gas prices worldwide are very high and that is definitely impacting utilities as well," she said. "It's a very volatile market right now, also influenced by things that are happening globally. So you know, we see it in the price of goods at the grocery store, and energy prices are no different right now."
In July, Colorado Springs Utilities increased utility rates by around $27 per average bill. The rate hike was in response to the price of natural gas soaring at the beginning of the year. Nieves said Utilities will reevaluate those rates in January.
If you are struggling to pay your utility bill but do not qualify for LEAP assistance, Project COPE is available to anyone in an emergency. The project helps pay utility bills year-round for individuals and families no matter their income.
Applications for LEAP open on Nov. 1 and if approved, you can receive assistance on bills until April. Call 1-866-432-8435 to find an assistance office near you. For more information on Project COPE you can call Pikes Peak United Way at 211.
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