Economic times making paying power bills more difficult

By Stephen McLamb

ALBERTVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Many people may be dreading that next power bill after the recent cold spell. That's especially true if you've fallen on tough times.

For Jamie and Linda Beasley, being without a job is bad. Now they're like many others fighting to keep their power on.

There's help out there but even those providing help are needing help.

The problem begins when you get the bill in the mail. "Well, we can't pay our bills at the moment because we have no job at all and it's been tough,"  said Linda Beasley.

The Beasley's walk everywhere now that they've joined the ever growing numbers of people who've fallen on hard times with the recent economic conditions.

Albertville's Municipal Utilities Board recently approved but did not enact a 1.6% rate hike for operational expenses.

"The economic times and the weather, customers will have a high power bill anyway now so we're going to hold off on this until a better time," says MUB General Manager Eldon Chumley.

With power meters churning away, those who cannot pay their bills are turning to Util-Assist.

Jeannie Wallace with the Family Resource Center says they spent $14,000 to help people pay their bills in November and December but money is tight right now.

Chumley says they're doing what they can. "We do allow customers to make arrangements on billing. Cutting off is always the last resort," says Chumley.

That's something the Beasley's are thankful for. "It's kinda tough but MUB has actually helped us out a lot with our late bills. They've actually cut us some slack," says Jamie Beasley.

Chumley says they do not cut off customers when the temperatures are freezing.

Wallace says they do need help from you to help those in need. You can check the box for project help on your bill and the money will stay in your community.

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