Dozens turned away from Consumers Energy bill assistance program - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Dozens turned away from Consumers Energy bill assistance program

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(12/17/13) - Dozens of people were turned away, Tuesday, from a Consumers Energy bill assistance program in Flint.

An afternoon sign-up session was by invitation only, but the utility company failed to make that clear.

Consumers Energy is working with The Heat and Warmth Fund to enroll people who can't afford their gas or electric bill. The program is called the Consumers Affordable Resources for Energy, or CARE for short.

A news release from Consumers Energy did not say applicants needed an invitation to start the enrollment process.

"Customers who have appointments are able to attend this event today," said Whitney Skeans, Consumers Energy customer assistance coordinator.

Many who heard about the program on ABC12 were told they couldn't be seen Tuesday, and that riled a lot of people.

"I'm very upset. I don't have the gas money. Christmas is next week. I need some help. This is ridiculous," said Jolena Walling.

"Some people are walking. Some people are catching a bus. Some people are catching rides and it's could outside. It's not like you can stand around and be alright," said Pamela Williams.

Those who showed up without an invitation were given a phone number to call to schedule a meeting in January.

Those who were invited came away happy.

"They paid the whole bill. Gave me a zero balance and besides that every month I got 40 percent off," said Reta Roby. "It was $3,000. I had no way of getting it paid."

"Any outstanding debt I had, that was taken care of. I'm leaving today with a zero balance," said Christine Williams.

"I'm a single mom and I'm unable to work right now because of a back condition. This might help me out a lot. Especially during Christmas or the winter when your bills are a lot higher," said Tiffany Hudkins.

Those who signed up will receive monthly energy bill credits, tips to manage energy usage and opportunities for energy efficiency upgrades.

The phone number to schedule an appointment for utility bill help is 877-646-2818.

Two meetings in Flint are planned for Jan. 8 and 14.

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