City, Eagle’s Wings continue Project HELP|Program provides help to WEU customers who can’t pay utilities bills

Published 4:21 am Sunday, June 28, 2009

Contributing Editor

Washington Electric Utilities and Eagle’s Wings are continuing Project HELP for a second year to help WEU customers having problems paying their utilities bills.
Started in spring 2008, Project HELP has raised approximately $3,500, said Andrea McClain, the city employee marketing the initiative. About 75 WEU customers have been helped since Project HELP began, she said.
“I guess you can still consider it a baby project,” McClain said. “With the economy the way it is, people are having trouble paying their utility bills.”
WEU customers are provided opportunities to contribute to Project HELP in three ways: making a one-time, lump-sum donation to the utility-assistance fund, designating a certain amount that’s added to their monthly bills or rounding up their bills to the next full-dollar amount, with the difference added to the fund. The rounding-up option is new to Project HELP this year.
“It’s all tax-deductible,” McClain said.
The city collects the money and distributes it to Eagle’s Wings, which evaluates the needs of WEU customers seeking assistance with their bills and determines who receives assistance, McClain explained.
“Based on the criteria, Eagle’s Wings distributes it as they see fit,” she said.
WEU customers received brochures about Project HELP in their latest bills, McClain said. She plans to use media outlets such as newspapers, television stations and radio stations to inform WEU customers about the project. Brochures are available at the customer-service area at City Hall.
“We’re getting the word out,” McClain said.
The city also offers its low-income utilities’ customers free energy kits and box fans to help them lower their utilities bills. The kits include the following energy-saving devices:
• Four compact fluorescent lamps (three 13-watt lamps and one 24-watt lamp).
• A low-flow 2.5 gallons/minute showerhead.
• Ten electric outlet insulators and 10 switch insulators.
• A refrigerator thermometer.
• An air thermometer.
• A hot-water gauge.
• An air-filter whistle, which when inserted into an air filter will “whistle” when it is time to replace the filter.
The kits and fans are available on a first-come, first-served basis with a limit of one per household.
For more information about Project HELP or the energy kits, contact Andrea McClain at or 252-975-9324.