The experts at MidAmerican Energy predict the average Iowa household will pay 50-dollars more each month this winter to heat their home — a 48 percent increase. MidAmerican and Alliant Energy — the two big utility companies in Iowa — offer programs that let you buy gift certificates for friends, relatives or neighbors to help cover the cost of their utility bill.
Larry McKim, director of the state program that provides grants to help the poorest Iowans pay their heat and electric bills, says a gift certificate to pay utilities would be a godsend in many Iowa homes because, as Radio Iowa reported last week, 12 percent of Iowa households are behind in paying their bills. “I’m very concerned about what I believe will be an alarming increase in disconnections and what the consequences of that could be,” McKim says. “It could be anything from homelessness to house fires as a result of using candles.”
Alan Urlis, a spokesman for MidAmerican Energy, says MidAmerican’s gift certificate program began in November, and you can designate any amount and may even give the gift certificate anonymously. Urlis says it’s a great gift for the hard-to-buy-for people on your shopping list and is especially welcomed by those who are having a hard time paying their dramatically-higher heating bills.
To buy one of the gift certificates for a MidAmerican customer, call 1-877-770-4438 or go on-line to www.CertifiChecks.com. For over a decade, MidAmerican has also allowed its customers to contribute monthly to the “I Care” program which helps cover the utility bills for low income Iowans.
Last year, about three-hundred-30-thousand dollars was contributed to MidAmerican’s “I-Care” program and the money was given to local community action agencies to help their low income clients pay utility bills or weatherize their home in hopes of lowering utility costs. This November, MidAmerican launched a program to encourage its employees to donate to a “We Care” program and at various MidAmerican offices around the state they’ve held bake sales and chili cook-offs to raise six-thousand dollars in the past two months.