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Project helps local families weatherize for winter

By Jamie Stover, Reporter, JStover@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 13 2014 04:05:20 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 13 2014 04:36:21 PM CDT

It may still be summer, but a local electric company is already planning for winter.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

It may still be summer, but a local electric company is already planning for winter.

PPL, along with a group of volunteers, spent Tuesday afternoon helping some families in Bethlehem get ready for the cold. The company said it's never too early to start preparing.

The winter relief assistance program provides free energy efficiency upgrades to low-income customers.

"It's an effort to reduce their electric bills, increase their comfort levels," said Chris Schoemaker, PPL's customer programs director.

Nearly 7,000 families benefit from the program every year. Nearly 25 percent of those families live in the Lehigh Valley.

Approximately three dozen volunteers helped improve 20 homes in the 1600 block of Hastings Road.

Gina Laub said she was grateful for the project. She is all too familiar with high utility bills.

"With having a family, it can be rough sometimes," Laub said.

PPL said the average family receives nearly $3,500 in free improvements and sees about a 10 percent drop in its electric rates.

The program is funded by PPL's service rates, but the manpower comes from the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley.

Before any work is done, crews assess the home and find problematic areas.

"We go in to people's home, try to figure out where the leakage is from, find out where all the electricity is being drawn from," said Robert Amador, with the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley.

"Whether it's replacing a refrigerator that is inefficient, a lighting assessment, we look for opportunities to insulate and seal up some loose cracks.  That can have a ton of savings for customers ," Schoemaker said.

For more information on the program and to see if you qualify, go online or call 888-232-6302.