In The News

Read all about how ESI is helping people all around the state of Wisconsin.

NONPROFIT SEES INCREASE IN CALLS FOR ASSISTANCE KEEPING HOMES COOL DURING PANDEMIC


MADISON, Wis. – As the heatwave continues, an area nonprofit is encouraging anyone who needs assistance keeping their house cool to contact them.

Energy Services Inc., which runs the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund, helps residents facing energy emergencies. Executive Director Tim Bruer said calls to the organization are up more than 40 percent compared to this time last year.

“Our organization is looking at somewhere between 1,000 plus calls a day from people who never applied or reached out for assistance — people who have little or no ability to purchase a room air conditioner,” Bruer said, adding that with bills piling up during the pandemic, “a basic survival necessity becomes an unaffordable luxury.”

The pandemic also makes things difficult for those who may usually take refuge in public spaces like shopping malls, who may no longer feel safe doing so, according to Bruer.

While Wisconsin currently has a moratorium on disconnecting residents’ services because of COVID-19, which goes away on July 25 due to a Public Service Commission decision last month.

“As we speak, utilities are preparing to focus in and will likely be disconnecting households,” Bruer said.

Energy Services Inc. is working with utility companies such as Alliant Energy Center and Madison Gas and Electric.

“With the passion of that utility and their customer service staff, we’re working together to ensure that nobody faces a life-threatening situation because of their inability to keep their power on,” Bruer said.

In a statement, an MGE spokesperson Steve Schultz said the company is “committed to working with customers who experience hardship” and encouraged those behind on their bills to contact the customer service center.

“MGE is determining next steps in light of the PSCW decision and will communicate them to our customers and the public when information becomes available,” Schultz said.

He also noted he’s aware of scammers posing as MGE threatening customers with disconnection unless a payment is made immediately.

“Phone scammers may give instructions to pay with a prepaid debit card or a wire transfer. If MGE customers receive a call like this, this is not MGE,” Schultz said. “This is not how MGE does business and we are not disconnecting customers at this time.”

Bruer is encouraging everyone to turn on fans and air-conditioning, check in on family, friends and neighbors and, if need be, get connected with resources at Energy Services Inc.

“We want to encourage you to contact us as soon as possible,” Bruer said. “For the most part, we will do whatever we need to do to qualify them for much-needed help.”

Wisconsin residents who would like to be connected with resources can call 1-800-506-5596 or visit this website. Those interested in donating can find more information here.

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ENERGY SERVICES FOR WAUSHARA COUNTY MAY ASSIST YOU WITH HEATING COSTS & MORE


There are many Waushara County residents that are struggling on fixed or limited incomes that find it difficult to keep pace with the high energy bills of the winter.  Many homes also have furnaces that are faulty and have no means to repair or replace them.  Energy Services for Waushara County is prepared to assist with these needs.

You do not have to be reluctant to ask for help, and just know that Energy Services is located at 220 N. Oakridge Court in Wautoma and they are committed to removing any artificial barriers to help you qualify for a Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance grant.  Grant amounts and payments are determined by your energy costs, household size, income, dwelling type, etc.  The approved payment is submitted directly to your utility or fuel company within a month of application.

To apply you will need 3 months of income statements, verification of your heating costs,  identification documentation such as your Social Security Card and photo ID.  An example of the income guidelines is a household size of two with three-month income of $9,374 or if you are self-employed an annual income of $37,496.  The process to apply is easy and to schedule an appointment call 1-800-506-5596 or 920-787-1830.  The team working at Energy Services is prepared to help you in every way – you just have to make the initial contact.

Timothy Bruer, Founder and Executive Director of Wisconsin Energy Services, told the Argus Waushara County is one of the most challenging, with pride being such a barrier and the remote isolated households attempting to survive on their meager incomes.  The County has some of the greatest unmet needs in Wisconsin.  “To date Energy Services for Waushara County has served 1500 households in the county, a 15 percent increase over last year at this time, shortly we will have already served more households during February than we did all of last year,” Bruer said.

He also was quick to add there are still residents in Waushara County in need of assistance and wants those residents to reach out for help. “We are a Hand Up – Not a Hand Out” program and ready to assist households with the basic needs of heating their home.  For those with high medical risks and/or energy costs, there are also additional resources available with the households payments to make those monthly utility costs much more affordable.

“With pride or lack of awareness of resources available we are also asking family, friends, and neighbors to come forth and let us know of a struggling household in need that you may be aware of,” Bruer added.  We will work together to help gain all of the necessary information to make the process as painless as possible.  We also realize with pride being a factor or if you are homebound, no worries, we will make house calls by appointment, he added.

Bruer says his organization takes great pride in the fact that  Waushara County has a 95 percent eligibility rate.  The vast majority of recipients are the working poor with children under 6, elderly, disabled, and Veterans.  He also said the fastest growing unmet need is with Veterans in Waushara County.

In addition to assisting with energy bills, Energy Services for Waushara County will help to determine if residents qualify for free home weatherization and furnace services provided by CAP Services.  Upon completion of your Wisconsin Low Income Energy Assistance application, if eligible your household will be automatically considered for the services of the low-income weatherization program.

If you or someone you know needs energy assistance, don’t hesitate please call Energy Services for Waushara County today at 1-800-506-5596 or  920-787-1830 and remember it is a Hand Up – not a Hand Out.

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ENERGY SERVICES FOR ADAMS COUNTRY


Energy Services, Inc, the energy assistance program contact, is located at 514 Main Street in Friendship. Executive Director and founder of this nonprofit, Timothy Bruer, is passionate about the services it provides to Adams County. As a young community organizer in Dane County, Timothy Bruer was motivated to found Energy Services after recalling individuals who froze to death without heating, or suffered heatstroke without air conditioning. It is the fact that many people have to choose between paying for utilizes and food, or paying for medical care that makes Bruer passionate about helping people in our community.

Energy Services places a priority on young working families with children, the disabled, and the elderly especially veterans. Veteran organizations can encourage elderly veterans to come forward to receive assistance. Through Energy Services, Inc and the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund, the Heat for Heroes Campaign was launched. The Heat for Heroes Campaign with Wisconsin Home Energy Plus/Low Income Energy Assistance Program helps Veterans to alleviate life-threatening energy related emergencies through the use of energy assistance grants.

Bruer urges people to contact Energy Services before they are in a crisis situation. He said, “We want to help out folks who are struggling on inadequate incomes. Incomes have not kept pace with heating costs. Last year 1,435 households in Adams County were helped out by Energy Services. We bridge the gap between need and energy resources. Adams is unique because it has some of the most isolated and rural households and there are challenges to transportation. Some people are choosing between eating and heating. Energy Services is here as a hand up instead of a hand out. We want to help empower people to take control over their basic needs.” Bruer is putting out a call to action for family members, friends, neighbors, workplaces, and other community members to identify those who are in need and tell them about Energy Services.

Through Energy Services, qualifying applicants may receive energy assistance along with home weatherization assistance. Resolution to utility issues are usually resolved in 30 days or less. The Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) provides a one-time payment during the heating season. A household may be eligible for crisis assistance if they have no heat, have received a disconnect notice from the heating vendor, or are nearly out of fuel and do not have the money to purchase more. WHEAP emergency heating system assistance can provide services to eligible home owners if the furnace or boiler stops operating during the heating season.

The Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund, a charitable arm of Energy Services bridges the gap not met through grants from about 17,000 annual donors. Utilities and energy providers cooperate with Energy Assistance so no one has to be burdened with heating and cooling costs.

An application can be completed in about fifteen minutes. Applicants can call the local service center to schedule an appointment and need to provide required information such as three months of income verification and their utility records from their landlords. Energy Services can do home visits for those who are ambulatory homebound. Reach out to Energy Services for Adams County at 608-339-6767 and see how they can help you with your energy needs.