Recently, Rachel Haberman, Executive Director of Energy Share of Montana, was our guest on TTO. You should be receiving a request for donations to Energy Share in your next power bill. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Energy Share:

What is Energy Share of Montana?
a) Energy Share is a private non-profit corporation.
b) Our primary purpose is to help Montanans faced with loss of heat or lights in their home due to reasons beyond their control, and who have no resources to pay for it themselves.
c) Been in existence since 1983
d) Has helped over 51,600 families with $17.1 million since 1983
e) Last year in the counties served by Opportunities Inc. (Cascade, Chouteau, Glacier, Pondera, Teton and Toole Counties) we helped 282 families with bill assistance.
f) Last year statewide we helped 2,310 families with bill assistance ($367 average per household).

 Who can get help through Energy Share if they need it?
Any Montana resident who is facing loss of heat in their home due to unavoidable, unforeseen circumstances and has no resources to pay for it themselves. This can include:
a) Montanans faced with temporary financial difficulties
b) Senior citizens and others with high medical bills or other difficult circumstances
c) Families whose heads of households have lost their jobs
d) Other emergency situations

Does it matter what type of energy you heat your home with?
No. Energy Share is “fuel-blind”, which means we have funds that may be used to pay for any type of heating fuel including electricity, fuel oil, propane, wood and natural gas.

What is the need in Montana?

According to the 2010 Census, 15% (137,000) of Montana’s population lives at or below 100% of poverty. For a family of three that is just over $19,000. Unfortunately economic issues have the highest impact on our low-income neighbors. As you can guess, people are facing difficult situations:
• Unemployed or under-employed
• Housing outside the city limits is often less expensive, but that creates higher fuel prices for getting to and from work – a Catch 22 for many of Energy Share’s clients.
• Senior citizens and others who are on fixed incomes.

Where does Energy Share get its funding?
a) Individuals and small businesses
o 100% of contributions are tax deductible and go back to the region of origin
o NO private donations are used for administrative costs.
o 15-20% of private donations are from former recipients
b) Money designated to Energy Share by large electric users, utility companies, and electric cooperatives to help their customers who are facing difficult circumstances.

How are funds distributed?
Opportunities Inc. is the agency that serves this area.They coordinates a Local Energy Share Committee of Volunteers made up of representatives of the utility companies, human service agencies, churches, low-income, programs, banks, senior citizens and others in the community. These committees meet on a regular basis throughout the heating season to review applications and make decisions. The payment is made directly to the energy provider.

How do people apply for Energy Share?
Contact Opportunities Inc. in Great Falls at 761-0310, website is www.gfoppinc.org, or call the statewide Energy Share office at 888-779-7589.

How can people donate to Energy Share?
a) You’ll find a pledge card in your November heating bill or, if you’re a member of an electric cooperative, in the November issue of Rural Montana.
b) Donate online at www.energysharemt.com or call 1-888-779-7589.
c) In all cases, 100% of private donations are used to help people with their energy bills. Donations are used first in the area from which they came.
d) Donations are tax-deductible.