A state official says at least 20-thousand Iowa households had their utilities disconnected in April, May or June. Jerry McKim, executive director of the state’s Low Income Heat and Energy Assistance program, says there were a record number of Iowans who had “past due” utility bills this past winter.
“I knew coming out of this winter that folks were really going to be struggling to pay off those past debts whether they were from this past winter or the accumulation of two winters,” McKim says. It’s difficult to say just how many Iowa households are going without electric or natural gas service today. Only the state’s investor-owned utilities are required by law to report utility cut-offs.
“But I don’t get the data from the rural electric co-ops or the municipal utilities. They’re not required to report (utility cut-offs),” McKim says. “But I would say easily we’re talking 10-, 15-, 20-thousand folks out of power during this heat wave.”
McKim’s agency hands out checks to help low-income Iowans pay their wintertime utility bills, and he’s not optimistic there’ll be more money forthcoming from congress to serve more low-income Iowans. House and Senate action thus far indicates there’ll be less federal heating assistance in the coming heating season, not more.
“Bottom line here: without a significant supplemental appropriation sometime this winter I could be looking at $15 million less going into this winter than I had last year,” McKim says. Nearly 90-thousand low-income Iowans qualified for Low Income Heat and Energy Assistance grants last winter. The average grant was about four-hundred-50 dollars.