MOUNT VERNON — With 100 pennies, American Electric Power customers in Ohio can help a family in need, perhaps even their neighbor, with utility costs this winter.
The Neighbor to Neighbor Program, administered by the Dollar Energy Fund, will assist qualifying families with a utility assistance grant which is applied directly to their electric bill.
“From May through the end of September, $1.6 million was used to help American Electric Power Ohio customers with their cooling costs,” said Chad Quinn, a representative of Dollar Energy.
Shareholder donations and customer seed dollars were used to start the program, Quinn said. For every dollar donated by AEP customers in the state, the company chips in a dollar for the program.
“AEP matches customer donations dollar for dollar to help neighbors in need,” Quinn said.
With today’s economy, Quinn said it is easy for companies like AEP Ohio to realize how families struggle with paying their utilities bill. Programs like Dollar Energy Fund are just another way companies, and its customers, can help out those who have fallen on hard times.
“In today’s economy, there are so many people out there just one paycheck away from not being able to make it,” Quinn said. “It is tougher to get by on Social Security checks. People that can help now aren’t very far from needing help.”
The contribution of $1, one time only or every month throughout the winter heating season, can be applied directly to utility bills by checking the contribution box on the current bill, Quinn said. Customers can also sign up on www.aepohio.com or www.dollarenergryfund.org.
“It all goes back to the community. One hundred percent of customer donations go back to AEP Ohio customers,” he said.
Eligible households must meet the following criteria:
•Be a customers of AEP Ohio.
•Be at or below 200 percent of Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. A family of four earning up to $44,100 per year is eligible.
•Must have paid a minimum of $100 in the last 90 days toward AEP Ohio bill. Exceptions for senior citizens apply.
•Have a minimum balance of $100.
Customers who qualify for the grants can apply at Interchurch Social Services in Centerburg, Danville, Mount Vernon and Fredericktown as well as The Salvation Army in Fredericktown and Mount Vernon.
All donations to the program are tax deductible.