New funding allocated for outstanding ONG accounts; City also funded electric overages from 2021 storm and provided financial assistance for residential customers
Claremore, Okla. | Jan. 31, 2022 – In August 2021, the City of Claremore launched a utility assistance program for outstanding electric bills to aid residents struggling with the impacts of climbing energy prices and other pandemic-related challenges. Last week, the City Council approved expansion of the program to provide funding for natural gas.
"Claremore leadership is prioritizing the needs of its most vulnerable citizens," said city manager John Feary. “In October, City leadership worked with our wholesale electric provider on an agreement to absorb the spike in electric costs for our customers from last year’s winter storm. However, we recognized that additional funds were needed for residential customers struggling with the financial impacts of the Pandemic."
The City will launch its COVID-19 Pandemic Oklahoma Natural Gas Relief Program on February 1 to help Claremore utility customers struggling to pay their outstanding ONG account balances.
More than $91,000 will be distributed on a first -come, first-served basis and remain open until reserves are exhausted. Applications will be reviewed by the City on a weekly basis and payment vouchers will be applied directly to qualifying ONG accounts. Claremore citizens residing within city limits who meet the low-to-moderate income guidelines established by HUD and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce are eligible to apply. The application, instructions and additional information are available here.
Over the past six months, the City has implemented two utility assistance programs to assist residents. The Claremore COVID CARES ACT provided $223,000 in funding to 704 residential utility customers to ensure citizens suffering financial hardships did not go without water, electricity or sewer and had access to the essential services needed for proper health and hygiene. Upon the program’s conclusion on December 31, 2021, City leadership opted to utilize the remaining funds of $91,537.52 to aid the community and approved the ONG partnership and Natural Gas Relief Program.
In October 2021, the Claremore City Council approved an allocation of $3.9 million over 10 years in funding to address its wholsale power cost increases from Grand River Dam Authority resulting from the February 2021 winter storm and historic cold temperatures. As a result, City of Claremore residential and business customers will not see an increase on their electric bills from last year’s weather event. ONG costs related to last year's weather event are not part of this agreement because City of Claremore residents contract directly with the service provider.