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Hundreds Seek Assistance With Energy Bills

Jason Woodhead

Families and individuals struggling to pay high heat bills may be able to get help.  Northwoods state lawmakers stopped in Rhinelander today to spread the word about the nonprofit Keep Wisconsin Warm fund.

That program has expanded its income limits to 80 percent of the state median income…to try and help more working households who may be feeling the pinch. 

Senator Tom Tiffany, and Representatives Rob Swearingin, Jeff Mursau and Mary Czaja each donated a hundred dollars to the fund.  Tiffany noted donations can be routed to aid whichever county you choose.  

“Our district is so rural, and there’s so many more propane users than in other parts of the state, that our district is being hit harder than in many other parts of the state and we just think it’s really appropriate to highlight the Keep Wisconsin Warm fund.”

Mary Rideout is Interim Director for Oneida County Social Services.  It administers the Low Income Heating Assistance Program, which can provide crisis funds to households making up to 60 percent of the median income level. 

She says the office received some 500 calls last week regarding energy assistance, many from propane customers.  That’s almost more than they typically receive in the entire month of January. 

“Our concern is right now for propane customers, we’re doing a hundred, two hundred gallon fill – how long is that going to last them? Are we going to be in the same spot next month, when that’s gone and they have to get another fill.”

Starting today, fuel trucks will be allowed carry heavier loads under an emergency order from Governor Scott Walker.  Those truck drivers are also being allowed to be on the job for longer hours in hopes of getting more fuel where it’s needed faster.    

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