With rising pressures on household bills coupled with extreme weather conditions, we recognise it can sometimes be a challenge for customers to pay for the energy they need to power, heat and cool their homes. To ensure our North America customers who face challenging economic circumstances are supported, we provide bill assistance through our Neighbor-to-Neighbor programme in Texas.
Through Neighbor-to-Neighbor in 2016, we were able to help nearly 3,700 vulnerable customers pay their energy bills and clear their debts with a grant of up to US$600 (£450). This was made possible via a US$667,500 (£498,100) donation from Direct Energy in 2016. We also give our customers the opportunity to support their neighbours by checking the ‘bill assistance’ box on their monthly bill and last year, customers donated an additional US$55,100 (£41,100) to the programme.
Since 2007, Direct Energy has contributed over £6.4 million to Neighbor-to-Neighbor which has supported around 32,000 households in need of assistance.
The scheme makes a big difference to customers; reducing the stress and worry of falling into bad debt. For example, Amy and her husband have a young family and while Amy works, her husband lost his job and their financial situation was beginning to get really tight.
Amy said: “We were able to get one time assistance from the Neighbor to Neighbor programme to help pay our electric bill. We are very appreciative of this programme and the help it offered us when we needed it most.”
The grants are distributed via 32 community action agencies, who are best placed to detect customers who need our help. This is because the agencies are already used by individuals in financial hardship to seek assistance with other household payments, such as with their rent or mortgage. To raise awareness of the support available through Neighbor-to-Neighbor, we run events and provide flyers for distribution by our not-for-profit partners.
Dorothy Wade Community Services Director at Nueces County Community Action Agency in Corpus Christi, Texas said: “Last year two of my clients 74 and 76 years old were not eligible for federal funding, so I was able to help them with their electric bills. They said this help from the Neighbor to Neighbor programme made it easier for them to pay for medicine and buy food. They were very thankful. “
Explore more about how we help vulnerable people with their energy bills.
 Number of households may involve double-counting if a household received support in more than one calendar year.