What do you get when you combine a prolonged economic slowdown with high unemployment and a heat wave that puts a big sweep of the country into days or weeks of triple-digit temperatures?
You get a lot of people who can't use their air conditioning lest they drive their electric bills too high. Unfortunately, bypassing air conditioning in intense heat can be health- and even life-threatening.
Some U.S. electric companies are trying to help customers by engaging with them directly and helping them understand things they can do to keep the house or apartment cool while saving precious pennies.
Westar Energy, an electric utility company headquartered in Topeka, Kansas, is in the process of setting up “Care Stations” staffed by customer advisers in cities throughout the company's service territory over the upcoming weeks to provide one-on-one assistance to customers.
The prolonged heat wave has caused electricity use to be high, driving up electric bills for people who can ill-afford the higher bills.
“With summer heat and the economy still suffering, we realize customers are dealing with tight budgets,” said Peggy Ricketts, Westar VP of customer care.
“Our customer advisers specialize in assisting customers under financial distress. Advisers offer budget advice and energy-saving tips, help customers understand payment options and work closely with social service agencies that assist individuals and families in need.”
Care Stations will be in the following locations at the following dates and times:
- July 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Community Access, 315 W. Sycamore, Independence
- August 1 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Salvation Army, 340 N. Market, Wichita
- August 2 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at United Way, 203 N. Cedar, Abilene
- August 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Labette County Emergency Assistance Center, 301 N. 30th, Parsons (News - Alert)
- August 5 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, 410 N. Haverhill, El Dorado
- August 9 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Salvation Army, 208 W. 6th, Newton
- August 30 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Buck Run Community Center, 735 Scott Ave., Fort Scott
Click here for a full, updated schedule of Care Stations.
Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.
Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell