Cold temperatures force some to find help to pay utility bills

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC/WMBF) - This week marks the first real cold snap of the fall season, which could signal a rise in heating costs for people across the Grand Strand and Pee Dee. Temperatures are expected to remain unseasonably cold for this time of year.

"Right now utility bills are in the normal range, but a month from now people will really see the increase after the cold we're having right now" said Lisa Buie of Myrtle Beach Helping Hand.

That organization offers assistance in the form of a food pantry, counseling services, and help paying monthly bills. The weak economy has forced Helping Hand to narrow it's billing assistance efforts to those clients using their services for the first time.

"We contact Santee Cooper, see what is due on the bill to keep the electric is on. What we encourage, we can't pay all the bill, we pay a portion" added Buie.

Experts admit that the cold temperatures and a weak economy could force many to fall behind in their payments. However those same experts suggest ways to ensure you don't get your power bill cutoff.

Both Santee Cooper and SCE&G say they won't cut off anyone's power if the temperature is 32 degrees or below. Representatives say they can work out a payment plan.

If you think you're going to fall behind, both companies say it's important to let them know as early as possible.

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