High energy bills from winter 2014 hurt some families - WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC

High energy bills from winter 2014 hurt some families

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FLORENCE, S.C .(WBTW) -

It may be officially Spring-time, but one aspect of winter still here are high energy bills. Those hefty bills may leave some residents in the dark.

"It went real sky high!" says Tamara Matthews, who says she needs help paying her energy bill for last month. 

She's not alone. Energy bills for Duke customers, grew, on average, by 11 percent in January from just a year ago. That makes it difficult for some people to pay.

"Hopefully my lights won't get cut off," Matthews says.

"The people coming in now are very worried and distressed about getting their bills paid," says Latekia Harrell of the Pee Dee Community Action Partnership. The nonprofit helps more than five thousand households keep their lights on every year. This year, they say an increase of people need help. 

"This winter storm has been very bad," Harrell says.

But the nonprofit says paying someone's energy bill is only a short-term fix. In fact, they say, requests for assistance have jumped over the past three years, when it lost funding for weatherization projects.

"Weatherization actually helps to weatherize your homes, as far as sealing in the air that's coming in from outside," says Harrell, which in turn, helps with energy bills. But federal funding for weatherization dried up when the stimulus ended.

So while customers get some temporary relief, paying energy bills may not fix the long-term problems.

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