Power companies teaming up with agencies to help customers pay bills

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The temperatures are falling and that means electric bills are going up.

There is help for some of you having a hard time paying your power bill.

SCE&G says to pick up the phone if you think you're going to fall behind on your payment.

"Don't wait until the last minute. We'll work with you and we'll design a program individual for you and your bill," said Kim Asbill with SCE&G public affairs.

The power company says they offer many ways to help you manage your bill, one is their Budget Billing program.

"It's just an effective way to just know what your bill is going to be every month. So in the middle of January when it's really cold, you know your bill is going to be the same as it was late month," Asbill said, "Same thing for March, April and May and they adjust it accordingly as they need to. So at the end of the year if you paid too much, they'll apply it to next year and if you haven't paid enough you'll get a bill for that."

Nearly 100,000 customers signed up allowing them to make the same payment amount every month.

Berkeley- Electric Coop and Santee Cooper will also work with customers who are having problems paying their bills.

Both companies say it's best to call and they will point you in the right direction.

If the companies don't have a way to help, they'll refer you to a community action agency.

"It helps people who are economically disadvantaged to achieve financial self sufficiency," said Chelsi Howard, community relations coordinator for Charleston County Human Services Commission.

The commission helped more than 6,000 families last year in the Tri-county area.

Howard said, "Already this year we've served 860 and that was just up until the end of February."

The money used to help customers is given trough grants they must apply for and it's all based on income.

Howard said, "For a family of four, that's about $2,900 per month before taxes."

Howard says the commission is getting a lot of calls and it's important to plan ahead if you need help.

"With some of the documentation that is required, it may take them up to two weeks to get it," said Howard.

Whether your help is through the power company or an agency, they all say you're better off asking for help before you're out of options.

You have to set an appointment to apply for help from the Charleston County Human Services Commission.

Each area of the Lowcountry has an assigned date to make those calls.

Charleston County Days to Call for an Appointment: 843-724-6760

3/31 Downtown Charleston

4/1   North Charleston

4/2   Hollywood, Johns Island, Ravenel, Wadmalaw Island

4/3   West Ashley, James Island, East Cooper

Berkeley County: 843-761-6935

Call-in every Monday at 8am until all appointments are filled for that week

Dorchester County: 843-832-7053

Jedburg Office: Mondays at 8am until all appointments are filled for that week

St. George Office: Wednesdays at 8:30am until all appointments are filled for that week