With one of the coldest winters in years still not over, Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation in Lenoir has reduced rates it charges on power usage for January, February and March bills.
"We saw where the bills would be very high," said Doug Johnson of Blue Ridge, "And we were concerned about it."
Power companies do see an increase in revenue during high power usage periods, and Johnson says the company's board did some thinking about how to help it's members.
"We thought a better plan is to cut our rates so we don't have the excess revenue coming in and it helps the members get through this difficult period."
The reduction could mean from ten to twenty dollars less than the big power bills would be without it. "Every dollar counts," said Johnson.
In addition to the rate cut, the utility has started a fund drive to raise money to distribute to DSS and local non-profits to help people pay heating bills. Officials said it doesn't matter if those receiving the funds are Blue Ridge members or not.
"This is for all the people in Northwestern North Carolina," said Johnson.
Deborah Thomas, who heads South Caldwell Christian Ministries, said her intake counselors have seen many people with power bills of $300 and $400 and cannot pay it. Blue Ridge helps the non-profits every year, she said, and this year the company has almost tripled what it normally donates.
Even so, that still has not been enough to meet the need and the additional money that could be coming to the agency, though the new fundraising effort would be appreciated she said.
"That will be the difference in some people having power to heat their homes or not."