Utility HOPE program unrelated to rate hike

Utility HOPE program unrelated to rate hike
Monique Broughton Knight (Source: WALB)
Monique Broughton Knight (Source: WALB)
The Albany Utility board (Source: WALB)
The Albany Utility board (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany Utility customers will now have more options to help out their fellow neighbors in need.

The city said the update to the assistance program was not in response to the rate increase set to take place next year.  Instead, the utility board found it as an opportunity to grow the fund and help more customers in need.

On Thursday, the Albany Utilities Board approved an update to its Project Hope Program. HOPE stands for Helping Others Pay for Energy.

"It's for our customers who have some unforeseen emergencies that they've had to cover that affects them to pay their utility bills," said City spokesperson Monique Broughton Knight. She said the update allows for the Southwest Georgia Community Action Council to now administer the funds.

"We help a lot of people in the community pay for their utility bills when they're in need. And so it's a great program and it will continue, we're just making it better."

The money that supports the program comes from you the customer.

"Now we'll roll out an application where the community can get involved and actually donate to the HOPE Program."

The update now allows people to donate in several ways. Instead of just dropping by the utility office and passing along a check, they can choose to add a specific donation to their utility bill on a monthly basis. Or they can have their utility bills rounded up each month, with the remaining cents going towards the HOPE fund.

"So if your bill is $150.99, it will round up to $151, so that one cent will go into the HOPE Program."

There are specific requirements for those wanting assistance. Broughton Knight says one of the benefits of now having the Southwest Georgia Community Action Council is that those who do not qualify for the HOPE Program, may still find assistance in other ways.

"They also have a lot of other funding sources within their wheel house," Knight said.

A customer can receive the aid twice a year with up to $300 in assistance. Those interested in either donating to the program, or using it, need to fill out a form.

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