Nonprofit groups team up to help Missouri residents with electric bills

Past Due Electric or Utility Bill
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(Missouri News Service – Chrystal Blair) – Several Missouri nonprofit groups are collaborating to assist rural southeastern communities struggling to pay their electric bills. Poverty rates in these areas are 10% higher than the state average, and the local electric utility provider has faced criticism for not doing more to alleviate the financial burden. In response, Renew Missouri is partnering with churches and other nonprofits to help residents access state and federal energy assistance programs.

Jessica Polk Sentell, eastern director for Renew Missouri, is actively working with the Ministerial Alliance at its food banks. “I have been there with some literature and educational materials,” Polk Sentell explained. “To help bring some education and some visibility and some outreach to these programs that help people pay their energy bills.”

Renew Missouri’s mission is to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency in the state. To qualify for assistance, applicants must be Missouri residents, U.S. citizens, or legal permanent residents, have no more than $3,000 in bank or retirement accounts or investments, and meet the income guidelines for their household size.

Brian Abbott, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Piedmont and president of the local Ministerial Alliance, noted the increasing demand for help. “We don’t have the resources, coming out of COVID and a lot of other things that have gone on in the last five years or so in the economy,” Abbott emphasized. “It’s really left a gap there for us. We’re telling a lot of people, ‘We understand you may have a shut-off notice, but we just don’t have the funds to help with that.'”

The Renew Missouri initiative is also aiding under-resourced Community Action Agencies, which often struggle to connect households with resources to help pay their energy bills.

(Photo via Adobe Stock Images)

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