The Rhode Island Good Neighbor Energy Fund (GNEF) announces the kick-off to its 31st annual “Warm Thy Neighbor” campaign to help Rhode Island households in temporary crisis, and who have not qualified for federal and state assistance programs, with the payment of their energy bills.  At a kick-off event held this past Wednesday morning at the United Way of Rhode Island, the administrator of the Fund, the initial seed money was received from the Fund’s sponsoring energy companies, National Grid, Pascoag Utility District, Dominion Resources, Petro Home Services, RISEC LP and TransCanada’s Ocean State Power, so that eligible households can begin receiving assistance immediately.  The Good Neighbor Energy Fund’s 2016-2017 campaign goal is to raise $400,000 and help more than 1,000 households.

In addition to the sponsoring energy companies, the Good Neighbor Energy Fund campaign relies on the generosity of individuals, families, local corporations and community organizations for support.  Yellow donation envelopes are enclosed with energy bills from November through March to make it convenient to donate.  Those interested in donating to the Fund can also send a check payable to “Good Neighbor Energy Fund” to United Way of Rhode Island, 50 Valley Street, Providence, RI 02909 or visit www.rhodeislandgoodneighbor.org.  The state’s local Community Action Program (CAP) agencies determine households who qualify for the Fund based on specific income and family member guidelines.

“With the sluggish economy combined with the arrival of colder temperatures we expect to see more of our neighbors in temporary crisis this winter season and in need of energy assistance,” said Michael Kirkwood, General Manager at Pascoag Utility District and Chairperson of the 2016-17 Rhode Island Good Neighbor Energy Fund campaign.  “Let’s once again make a cooperative effort among the sponsoring energy companies, United Way of Rhode Island, the CAP agencies, the corporate community and residents across the state to exceed our fundraising goal and provide warmth to all the households who are eligible.”

A household is eligible for assistance from the Fund as long as its total annual income does not exceed 300 percent of the federal poverty level.  For example, a household of two is eligible for the Fund if its annual income does not exceed $48,060 while a household of four cannot exceed $72,900.

“Like all our programs here, the Good Neighbor Energy Fund helps families and individuals succeed,” said Anthony Maione, President and CEO, United Way of Rhode Island.  “We believe that people want to do the best they can for themselves and their families, but sometimes they need a little assistance.  The Fund is for people in temporary crisis.”  Maione added that anyone who thinks they may be eligible for energy assistance through the Fund can call the United Way 2-1-1 contact center which is free and available to Rhode Islanders 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.

Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and serves on the Board of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and Lucy's Hearth. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.