People behind on utility bills struggle to stay warm, but help i - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

People behind on utility bills struggle to stay warm, but help is on the way

Many people in line at MLGW Monday were trying to make payments to avoid getting their utilities cut. Many people in line at MLGW Monday were trying to make payments to avoid getting their utilities cut.

(WMC-TV) – MLGW parking lots were packed Friday, not only because bills are due, but also because some people need help paying bills that are higher than normal.

January is almost over. It was a month that had a lot of ups and downs when it came to the temperature, leaving a mark on your energy bill.

Many people in line at MLGW Monday were trying to make payments to avoid getting their utilities cut.

"Oh yea, that's why I'm in here right now," said Ulysses Higgins.

Some of the bills are too high for some to manage the payments.

"It's two months behind anyway, so it runs like $290," said Jackie Parker, who owed $956 on her bill.

Marjorie Baker's bill was not as high as Parker's, but that does not make it cheap.

"It was $849 and me and my mom live in the house and that's just ridiculous for one month," said Baker.

But Higgins, Parker, and Baker are not alone. That is why MLGW is allowing customers who owe more than $250 to begin a payment plan, which will allow them to avoid getting their utilities shut off but only if they pay $250 or 25 percent of what is do, whichever is lower.

There are programs available so that you can help some of the people who are behind on their bills, but trying to stay warm this winter.

Through MLGW's Gift of Comfort program, the company will allow you to pay any amount on any customer's bill. Another way you can help is to share your pennies, rounding up your bill to the nearest dollars. The difference goes to Project CARE, a program conducted through Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA).

Ulysses Higgins says without that plan he would not be able to get back on his feet.

"It means a lot, it's hard to come up with all that money at once you know," he said.

Baker says something has to change.

"You gotta have heat, you gotta have lights, it's a necessity and I think something has got to be done for senior citizens, disabled people and people working in everyday life," she said.

A spokesperson for MLGW tells me they have a "no shut off" policy that takes effect when the temperature dips below 32 degrees, but when the temperature rises, it is business as usual.

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