The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Energy credit fully funded for 2012

Valdez residents to receive $550 off energy bills

 

Brielle Schaeffer/Valdez Star file photo

A city hall staffer helped an applicant sign up for the energy assistance program in January 2009.

The Valdez City Council added an additional $50,000 to fund the popular energy assistance program to ensure it has enough cash to pay out in January, 2012. The program pays $550 towards energy bills of Valdez households that sign up for the program.

“We’re ready to hit the streets,” with the program John Hozey, city manager, told the council before it voted to pad the program’s coffers Monday night.

The program will open to registration November 1, and will be open until December 30. Only one credit per household is allowed. To sign up, you must have a valid utility bill, for Copper Valley Electric Association, or one of the two fuel delivery companies in Valdez. The credit can be applied to electric or fuel bills, or split between the two. The residence and account must be in the city limits and the person representing the household must have their name on the account. Only one credit per household is allowed.

The city sends the checks directly to the fuel company or CVEA directly, usually by the end of January.

Businesses, commercial users and those who do not have utility or fuel accounts are not eligible.

Those who have utilities included in rents paid to a landlord do not qualify either.

This bothers council member Karen Ables, who questioned whether everyone in Valdez who could use a financial boost in winter is benefiting from the program.

“I was wondering if we could issue a gift card,” instead Ables said when council was discussing the program. “I think it’s something we should look at.”

While acknowledging it would up the city’s cost and possibly the amount of paperwork involved, she encouraged fellow council member to consider the concept in the future.

Council member Mike Wells pointed out that the program will run out of money and expire this year unless council decides to fund the program for next year during the upcoming 2012 budget hearings.

“Without additional money, this would be the last year,” Hozey answered.

Valdez Star photo

The form to fill out to receive the city energy subsidy is fairly easy. Registration begins November 1, at city hall.

The program was created by council in 2008 after city coffers overflowed with increased oil tax wealth at a time when energy prices were reaching all-time highs. The city funded it to the tune of $2.5 million and has added smaller sums to its balance in the ensuing years.

Since its inception, the program has paid out $2,171,020 according the Hozey’s agenda statement to council.

Hozey indicated council will revisit funding and continuing the program in the 2012 budget hearings.

“We had about 1340 applicants the year before,” Walter Sapp, the city’s finance director said during the meeting.

The city also uses the energy assistance application as a way to count the number of Valdez residents within the city limits, which city administration in turn uses to help determine the population in Valdez, which often conflicts with the population counted by the state.

 

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