Record-high temperatures have become common-place during summers in Texas. So are higher electricity bills as Texans try to stay ahead of the scorching heat.
"Direct Energy realizes the importance of helping customers who are struggling to pay those electricity bills," said Jim Steffes, Vice President of Direct Energy. "Through its Neighbor-to-Neighbor program, Direct Energy provides recourse for them as the hottest month of the year is upon us."
The retail electric provider has increased its annual contribution to its bill-assistance program by 20 percent to $600,000. Since Jan. 1, the company has helped more than 110 families including Rita, a 62-year-old Direct Energy customer.
Rita faced tough choices in February when her unemployment benefits ran out. Luckily, she heard about the company's Neighbor-to-Neighbor program.
"I couldn't afford my medication for diabetes and high blood pressure," Rita said. "I'm doing without a lot of things just to get by. Thank God for this program. It helped me survive."
Direct Energy recognizes that emergencies happen and often cause financial strain. With that in mind, the company challenges its customers to be good neighbors and encourages them to donate to the Neighbor-to-Neighbor bill-assistance program.
Shawnee Bayer, a program director with a local community action agency, said her clients sometimes cry from happiness when they learn they'll receive financial help from the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program.
"Sometimes, they have no other means of getting by and the money provided from the company and its customers is so appreciated," Bayer said. "It's mind-boggling to see such a big company doing so much for people in need."
Customers may contribute to the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program by checking the "bill assistance" box on their monthly bill, located on the tear-off portion of the bill just below the total due. Online-paying customers can help fund this program by checking the "bill assistance" box located under the payment amount in Step 1 and entering the amount they would like to contribute.
Direct Energy, along with other Centrica companies, has donated more than $4 million since 2003 to the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program. Those funds are distributed to fellow Texans and customers through 29 community action agencies. For more information, visit www.directenergy.com/neighbortoneighbor.
Through a local community action agency, those who qualify for the Neighbor-to-Neighborprogram may receive up to $600 in assistance during a calendar year. Each agency screens applicants and determines who will receive assistance. To qualify, recipients must be Direct Energy customers, reside at the service address and be financially responsible for monthly electricity expenses. They also must meet the income eligibility criteria.
About Direct Energy
Direct Energy is one of North America's largest energy and energy-related services providers with over 6 million residential and commercial customer relationships. Through its Direct Energy, CPL Retail Energy and WTU Retail Energy brands, the company is the third-largest retail electricity provider in Texas. It owns three power generation facilities and a series of energy-related services companies - including Wendland Air Conditioning and Heating. Direct Energy provides customers with choice and support in managing their energy costs through a portfolio of innovative products and services. A subsidiary of Centrica plc (LSE:CNA), one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, Direct Energy operates in 46 states and 10 provinces in Canada. To learn more about Direct Energy, visit www.directenergy.com/Texas. Direct Energy, LP (PUCT#10040)