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Free fans available through Benton Utilities Share Program

May 2, 2012

With summer temperatures already here, there could be an abundance of residents in need of a fan to cool their home, particularly for the elderly.
Because of that, the Benton Utilities Share Program have stocked more than 270 fans that they are ready to distribute "free of charge." Applicants must be a customer of Benton Utilities and participating members of the Share Program, with an annual income not exceeding $25,000.
In the past 4 years, the Benton Utilities Share Program has helped nearly 1,500 Benton Utility customers pay electric bills. The 7 member Share Board was established in the fall of 2007 to assist the elderly, the handicapped and families struggling because of unusual circumstances to make ends meet.
According to www.benton.ar.gov/utility_dept/share_program.htm, "Is Neighbors helping Neighbors right here in our community. The Share Program is a voluntary program, our customers are asked to participate in that has been put in place to help people having trouble paying their utility bills."
"Benton Utilities has approximately 13,000 customers and approximately 300 of them are having trouble paying their utilities bills every year," the website reads. "This program will help the customers stressed financially when they qualify."
The program is funded by participating Benton Utility customers whose bills are rounded up to the nearest dollar. For example, according to the website, "A customer’s bill is $59.50, it will be rounded up to $60. The extra 50 cents will be put into a trust account to be administered consistent with the Share Program. The trust account will be used to cover utilities bills for people who meet guidelines developed by a citizen’s committee and approved by the commission. According to research from the commission, the average Benton Utilities customer contributing to the program will pay about $6 per year."
The Benton Utilities Share Program is "completely voluntary" and customers can "opt out" of the program.
For more information, call Benton Utilities at 776-5916 or visit Benton Utilities Customer Service office at 114 S. East Street.

Courier reporter Maribeth Bueche contributed to this article.

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