Holy Cross helps out the needy | AspenTimes.com

Holy Cross helps out the needy

Dennis Webb
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Holy Cross Energy has donated $50,000 to an assistance program for low-income families, but it didn’t have to be persuaded to do so by a law that took effect last year.

Energy Outreach Colorado executive director Skip Arnold said the Glenwood Springs-based rural electric cooperative has been a longtime supporter of his program. It didn’t need the nudging of the new law.

Arnold said Holy Cross has been the most supportive rural electric co-op in Colorado when it comes to providing energy assistance to the needy.

“They’ve been giving to us for 18 years. I think they just continued their giving, very generously, I might add.”

A Colorado Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) bill that was passed in 2005 and took effect last year seeks to boost contributions to energy assistance efforts. Regulated utilities such as Xcel Energy now are required to put a check-off box on bill stubs so customers can donate monthly.

Rural co-ops and municipal utilities are asked to have a program that supports low-income energy programs, but the bill doesn’t spell out what kind of support that might entail, Arnold said. It also lets co-op boards of directors opt out of participating, but in return their co-op becomes ineligible to receive funds generated from such programs.

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He said that while a lot of co-ops participated in energy assistance programs prior to the new law’s adoption, a lot didn’t, and the law has changed that. In the case of Holy Cross, its longtime support of Energy Outreach Colorado stemmed in part from the fact that its onetime general manager, Kent Benham, had served on the nonprofit organization’s board for many years, Arnold said.

Holy Cross officials could not be reached Wednesday for comment. In a statement released by Energy Outreach Colorado, Holy Cross chief executive officer Del Worley said, “Our contribution to Energy Outreach Colorado is a meaningful opportunity for us to give back to the communities in which we serve. We’re proud to support Energy Outreach’s mission of helping all Coloradans be able to afford home energy.”

Energy Outreach will distribute the co-op’s energy assistance funding to families served by Holy Cross in Eagle, Garfield, Gunnison, Mesa and Pitkin counties.

Energy Outreach Colorado has distributed more than $73 million in aid since its founding in 1989. Last year it helped about 115,000 low-income households with heating bills.

In addition, it provides energy-efficiency upgrades to low-income housing, primarily for new construction. For example, it pays for upgrading to more energy-efficient appliances and utilities for all Habitat for Humanity homes built in the state, Arnold said.

Last year, Glenwood Springs’ municipal electric system donated $4,400 to Energy Outreach Colorado, Arnold said.

He said Xcel Energy also has been “very generous” with distributions over the years. It already had been offering the monthly donation option for customers, and promoting it through means such as bill inserts.

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