BIRMINGHAM, Ala, (WIAT)– Alabama Power, Spire and Birmingham Water Works have all announced rate increases in recent weeks, something some residents see as an extra burden.

“With Christmas time right around the corner, it’s just, I’m mean it’s almost like you got to make a decision on whether I play Santa or pay my bills,” Birmingham resident Justin Gray said.

Alabama Power says they recognize the struggle it is for several to pay their utility bills, and it is for that reason they are working to lessen the blow.

“We understand that and we try to offer opportunities and ways and programs to help customers manage those costs,” said Anthony Cook, communications specialist at Alabama Power.

It is programs like “Project Share” and other opportunities through community action agencies, like the Community Action Agency of Northeast Alabama, that they are able to help lessen the cost of bills for residents.

“Even if their services are off, we are able to assist them, or they are on the brink of being turned off or they have other things going on such as the elderly having to make a decision- can they pay their medication or can they pay their bills,” said Willie Pace Jr., the Community Services Director for Jefferson County.

Spire’s DollarHelp program has even increased their income guidelines which, according to Spire Community Services representative, Gail Cruz, allows them to offer energy assistance to customers whose household incomes are up to 300% of the federal poverty level.

“It kind of has filled in a void for people who make a little bit higher income, but who are still struggling and need help,” said Cruz. “So we want to fill that gap by giving them an opportunity to also be able to breathe a little and get some help from their neighbors.”

Cruz said she hopes it shows customers they are listening and trying to make sure they help as many people as possible.

“All of us have had struggles from time to time in our lives and these programs are ways to help people through those struggles,” Cook said.

To learn more about how you can apply for assistance, you can visit the following: