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Energy assistance available for LES customers during pandemic

LINCOLN — All Lincoln Electric System customers currently struggling to pay their electric bill during this pandemic should contact LES at 402-475-4211 as soon as possible. Aside from working with their public power utility to develop a flexible plan, there is financial assistance available with recently expanded qualifications due to COVID-19.

LES’ Energy Assistance Program was established in 2002 to help defray the cost of energy for residents with low income and to reduce the number of electrical disconnections and reconnections in the community. The program is administered by the Community Action Partnership of Lancaster and Saunders Counties. During this national emergency, LES has suspended disconnections for nonpayment and fees for late payments, but the utility still urges customers to reach out to resources, such as Community Action, if they are in need.

Community Action has a variety of services available that are especially suited to serve the community at this time. The nonprofit’s Emergency Services Program provides financial assistance in the form of rent, utility and deposit payment to individuals and families experiencing -- or at risk of experiencing -- homelessness.

“Community Action is here and ready to provide payment assistance to those with an eviction or utility disconnect notice, or security deposit assistance to those transitioning out of homelessness,” said Michelle Martinez, Community Services director for Community Action. “We encourage anyone in such a situation to call 402-471-4515 to complete an application over the phone today.”

To receive Emergency Services assistance from Community Action, households must complete an application over the phone by calling 402-471-4515. Calls are returned in the order they are received, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Community Action is continuing provision of its poverty-fighting programming following guidance from local health experts. Its Gathering Place soup kitchen, for example, is serving grab-and-go meals seven days a week, 5-8 p.m. Anyone in need of a hot, nutritious meal is encouraged to visit the Gathering Place during operating hours – no questions asked. The agency wants the community to know that it is here and ready to assist.

“By working with Community Action to administer the Energy Assistance Program over the last 18 years, we have been able to help many customers in need receive funds,” said Lisa Hale, LES Customer Services vice president. “This partnership is uniquely positioned to help as our community responds to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Any customers struggling to pay their electric bill should call us as soon as possible to develop their best path toward success and avoid accumulating large balances due.”

Customers who may not have qualified for the program previously are encouraged to apply again as they may be eligible under the temporary guidelines.

For more information about Community Action programs and services, including those mentioned here, visit CommunityActionAtWork.org or call 402-471-4515. To talk to an LES customer service representative, call 402-475-4211 or email CustomerService@LES.com. More community resources are also listed at LES.com.