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No funding available for cooling
With a heat index today and Wednesday that will make temperatures in the low 90s feel more like the low 100s, the options for cooling off will be limited: Turn down the air conditioning or take a dip in a pool.

But for some low-income individuals, turning down the air conditioning or cranking up the fans will not be an option without financial assistance to pay their electricity bills.

And this summer, as in previous summers, there is no assistance available from the federal government.

Because of federal and local budget cuts to a program administered by the Coastal Area Community Action Authority to help low-income individuals pay heating and cooling bills, no money is available for the summer cooling season, said Debra Powell, community services manager for the authority.

"We run the program until the money runs out," Powell said. "All the money ran out in March."

After initially receiving $128,000 for heating assistance in Glynn County, the program received more money as time went on and eventually spent $420,898 for 1,236 households.

However, the program covers Camden, McIntosh, Liberty and Bryan counties as well. Altogether, $1 million was used on energy assistance from November 2012 to March 2013.

"The money trickles down from federal and local programs," Powell said.

The money that comes to the Coastal Area Community Action Authority during winter is the same money that would be used to provide assistance during summer, if any is left over.

Powell says the program has not been able to provide summer assistance the past four years.

During summer, electric companies like Georgia Power typically raise rates.

When 650 to 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity is used from June to September, Georgia Power charges about 8.86 cents per kilowatt hour, which is about 4.29 cents higher than at other times of the year.

The Energy Assistance Program gives low-income households money to help pay heating bills during winter. Starting Nov. 1 every year, people 65 years old and older can apply for assistance. Beginning Dec. 1, people 64 years old and younger can apply.

To be eligible, a household must have an income equal to or less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level, or $21,257 for an individual or $43,568 for a family of four.

* Reporter Martin Rand III covers local news. Contact him at mrand@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook, or at 265-8320, ext. 324.



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