Pressure : 29.60 in
Dewpoint : 51.1 °
Wind : West
Energy assistance arrives late for local residents
One Hastings resident is close to losing her utilities services, but says it's not her fault. Delayed funding from the federal government for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program in Nebraska is causing concerns among some residents.
News 5's Lauren Conley spoke with a Hastings resident affected by the delay.
She received a letter from Hastings Utilities Thursday saying her service is just about a week away from being disconnected. The state usually pays the utility company directly, so this came as a shock.
"I was wondering what on earth is going on because from what I understood this should have been paid," said Peterson.
Teresa Peterson has been receiving heating assistance since last winter. She's been out of work and low on money since she was injured on the job.
Pending workers compensation is preventing her from sharing details of the incident.
It's been a tough few years for Peterson.
"I don't like getting public assistance. I don't want to be on disability. It's just, it's very degrading," Peterson said.
To make matters worse, she's suddenly being told she may no longer have heat.
"I almost kind of panicked really," said Peterson.
Peterson wanted answers. She told News 5 she went to Hastings Utilities, the mayor and even Senator Seiler. Nobody had answers.
"Went over to social services and talked to them. They said they didn't know if they were even going to get the grant to cover the costs," Peterson said.
Without this funding, people across the state would suffer.
"I''m thinking oh, dear God, you know there's going to be a lot of people that are going to be in serious jeopardy. Especially over Christmas time," said Peterson.
Hastings Utilities says if the state can't pay, someone still has to.
"We have an agreement with the customer. Whether you're the customer or whomever. That customer has the responsibility to pay that bill," said Hastings Utilities Director Marv Schultes.
Peterson says she's learned the money will be coming next week.
But, residents will receive it directly, then must pay the utilities company.
"Which puts people at risk if they don't realize what's going on. Otherwise you won't be able to get assistance either come summertime or next winter," said Peterson.
News 5 spoke with the Department of Health and Human Services and they said there was never a question of whether or not the funding would come. It's actually not totally uncommon for these funds to be late.
They do acknowledge that it's about a month late though.
KHASTV on Facebook