By Talbert Toole
For many LOU residents, paying electricity bills can often be a struggle due to various reasons.
The Oxford Electric Department offers the PLUS-1 Program to LOU residents in need of assistance if they are elderly, handicapped of financially needy.
The program, which originally began in May 1992, was taken over in 2012 by Interfaith Compassion Ministry, that currently still meets with customers to work through the approval process, according to Margie Abel, OED business manager.
“The Salvation Army managed the program for a number of years prior to 2012,” Abel said. “Interfaith Compassion Ministry is given a set amount by Oxford Electric they are allowed to disperse (currently $1,000 per month) so that it doesn’t exceed donations.”
The OED not only sets the amount of dispersed assistance but it is also in charge of managing the donations received and account balance to ensure that sufficient funds are in place each month while IMC manages the applications and approval process.
A customer or an LOU resident can receive assistance once per year for two consecutive years, according to Abel. After receiving assistance for those two consecutive years, recipients must sit out for a couple of years before being able to receive assistance once again, she said.
Approximately 10 to 12 residents or customers of OED receive assistance each month, which results in 120 customers per year.
“So a conservative estimate for the life of the program would be 2,500 to 3,000 customers have received assistance,” Abel said.
Since FY2011, the Plus-1 program has paid $105,154 to customers, according to Abel. Prior to that fiscal year, the OED does not have detailed records of paid outs, however, Abel said a conservative estimate of funds since 1992 would be approximately $150,000.
When the program first began, donations averaged $400 per month, Abel said. Now, donations have been averaging to be $1,000 per month.
“Currently 485 customers are signed on to make monthly donations to the Plus-1 Program,” Abel said. “The amount of monthly contributions received is approximately $1,000.”
For LOU residents needing assistance can contact the Interfaith Compassion Ministry at (662)-281-1002. Residents wishing to donate to the program and pick-up a form at the Oxford Electric Department.