CALGARY – Following a record-setting cold winter, Albertans are reminded that the Government of Alberta’s Winter Moratorium, a program in place to prevent utility disconnections, will be lifted on April 15, 2019. Albertans with outstanding utility bills are encouraged to contact their provider to make or set-up payment arrangements prior to issuance of a Pending Disconnection Notice. Disconnection remains the option of last resort and is why Direct Energy created the Direct Energy Emergency Fund, a $500,000, three-year joint initiative in partnership with the United Way of Calgary and Area and the Alberta Capital Region.
Since launching the Fund in June 2017, more than 400 Alberta families have received emergency grants and access to critical resources. In 2018, recipient families in the Capital Region received an average of $505 from the Direct Energy Emergency Fund, while funds in the Calgary area averaged $600 per family. This year, $175,000 is available to support families dealing with a short-term emergency and prevent it from becoming a long-term problem.
“Many Alberta families continue to struggle. With a record-setting cold spell this winter, we saw usage increase by 14% in February,” said Lori Armstrong, Senior Commercial Director, Direct Energy Regulated Services. “We anticipate the need will be great, and it’s important that Albertans know they have options. Direct Energy is committed to providing solutions—we are asking customers in arrears to call us before they receive a disconnection notice.”
Albertans can access the Direct Energy Emergency Fund by dialing 211, a free, confidential and multilingual system available 24-hours a day. Following referral to a United Way partner agency, families are provided resources and support to help them transition out of short-term crisis and towards financial empowerment.
“A single parent struggling with mental health issues was so overwhelmed he attempted suicide. Being unable to work, he went on Medical employment insurance which didn’t provide enough to cover his bills. Through accessing the Direct Energy Emergency Fund, he was able to pay the arrears on his utilities, which greatly reduced his stress, and helped him to feel he had a community behind him. He is continuing therapy and on the road to recovery.” – St. Albert Community Village and Food Bank, Partner Agency, United Way Alberta Capital Region
“One in 10 Calgarians live in poverty, and one in three Calgarians worry regularly about having adequate funds to pay for housing and basic needs,” said Susan Brooke, Vice President, Community Impact and Partnerships, United Way of Calgary and Area. “We are so pleased to partner with Direct Energy and know that this Fund keeps houses warm and the lights on for a family in crisis.”
Eligibility for the Direct Energy Emergency Fund is determined by 211 and the partner agencies. Funding is available to Albertans served by the United Way of Calgary and Area and the Alberta Capital Region, regardless of energy provider. Funds are currently available to Albertans living in: Airdrie, Calgary, Chestermere, Cochrane, County of Strathcona, County of Parkland, Edmonton, Fort Saskatchewan, High River, Leduc, Okotoks, Strathmore, Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove, St. Alberta and Stony Plain.
For more information on the Direct Energy Emergency Fund, please visit www.directenergy.ca/alberta/emergencyfund or dial 211.
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About Direct Energy: Direct Energy is one of North America’s largest energy and energy-related services providers with nearly five million residential and commercial customers. Direct Energy provides customers with choice and support in managing their energy costs through a portfolio of innovative products and services. A subsidiary of Centrica plc (LSE: CNA), one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies, Direct Energy operates in 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and eight provinces in Canada. To learn more about Direct Energy, please visit www.directenergy.com.
About United Way of Calgary and Area: United Way of Calgary and Area brings together donors, corporations, agencies, and government to solve complex issues and improve the lives of more than 150,000 people every year. Since 1940, United Way has supported agencies that assist vulnerable Calgarians. Today, United Way invests in programs and collaborations with common outcomes, brings people together to coordinate systems change, and designs solutions that address root causes to create lasting social change. Collectively, this work deepens community impact.
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United Way of Calgary and Area