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Program to help Coloradoans pay energy bills seeing record number of applicants

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For months Coloradoans have been speaking out about rising energy bills.

"I feel trapped. There's no alternative you either take this or you freeze to death, Barbara Drennan told CBS News Colorado in December, concerned about how they'll afford other necessities.

"It's squeezing me out of money I need just to buy food, clothing, pay for my car insurance," Cathy Meserole said.

In some cases, those bills are more than doubling.

"$344.38," she said, looking at her latest bill.


Their concerns are being felt by the organization set up to help.

Theresa Kullen is the program manager for Colorado's low-income energy assistance program (LEAP).

"While heating costs have been increasing, this year the impact on the households is really quite staggering," Kullen said.

They try and ease the burden by providing a one-time payment directly to the utility company.

Already, more than 60,000 Coloradoans have applied for help since Nov. 1. That's up 7.5% from last year, less than halfway into the heating season.

While they are seeing more applicants, they are unable to change what they can give each household.

"We don't have the privilege of increasing benefits to keep up with the demand of the increased costs," Kullen said.

Kullen says they would need additional funding in order to do that, what they have for this year is budgeted to help any household that applies through April.

Kullen encourages anyone who is struggling to apply and knows it could help others as well.

"Our legislators need to be aware by program numbers that these energy costs are having drastic impacts on not only our program but the people that we serve," Kullen said.

There are income guidelines for applying you can find more information by calling the state's heat helpline (866)-432-8435 or by visiting their website:

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