Free energy credit: coming to a utility bill near you
Program began as an indirect tax rebate and is open to all Valdez households
Registration is open at City Hall for the city's popular energy assistance program.
It is not a needs-based program or a charity, but is does pay a one-time $550 credit towards energy bills for all eligible Valdez households.
Registration is open until the end-of-business day December 30. The city will also hold extended hours on November 16 and December 7 for those who cannot make it during regular business hours. On those two dates, eligible households can register until 7:30 p.m.
The forms to register are available at city hall and can be printed from the city's website.
Registration is easy: applicants 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, and can only be applied to that address. The residence and accounts must be within the city limits of Valdez and the person representing the household must have their name on the account.
Verification of local residency is required during registration, so bring along a valid ID and a recent utility bill or other documentation proving residence at the address for where the energy credit is to be applied.
"No other person may apply for an energy credit for the same dwelling," the city said.
Still can't make it to city hall to register in person?
Applicants can still register by mail.
"Eligible households may register via US Mail as long as all required documentation is attached to a notarized registration form and all information is received in City Hall by December 30, 2016," the city says
There is no online registration at this time.
Renters that have utilities included in their lease payments and businesses are excluded from the program.
The city sends the checks directly to the fuel company of the applicant's choice or Copper Valley Electric Association directly, usually by the end of February.
The program was created by the city council in 2008 after city coffers overflowed with increased oil tax wealth at a time when energy prices were reaching all-time highs. Backers saw the energy assistance as a sort of de facto property tax rebate.
If you owe money to the City of Valdez - such as unpaid property taxes, or unpaid fines, late rent, etc. - the amount will be deducted and applied to the city debt before it can be paid to energy providers.
The city also uses the application process as a means of updated its census data, and asks how many people are in your household.
Valdez Star photo
The two-page energy assistance form is available at city hall and on the city's website.
The program has remained in place since its inception, despite periodic calls from various city officials to end the program, which is typically funded by the council during its mid-year budget adjustment.
This year, funding for the project was included in the new budget and a number of council members - and people giving public testimony - suggested changes to the program to become a cash payout or for an increase to the amount paid by the city.
During its run, it has paid out nearly $5 million in assistance to the people of Valdez - regardless of income or personal circumstances.
While fans of the program tout its benefits - providing high energy cost relief in a town with high property taxes - others say the program should be dumped or replaced with a program that also helps businesses.
More information is available by calling city hall direct or visiting the city's website.