Duke Energy contributes $600,000 to Helping Hand program

Snow surrounds a house Feb. 15, 2015 in Scituate, Massachusetts. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

PLAINFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — Duke Energy is contributing $600,000 and its customers and employees are donating additional funds to help Hoosiers pay their heating bills this winter.

The Helping Hand program helps low-income customers. Duke customers and employees contributed about $96,000.

“We established the Helping Hand program in 1983 to provide assistance in the winter to Indiana customers,” said Duke Energy Indiana President Melody Birmingham-Byrd in a news release. “The program is funded by Duke Energy shareholders and customer donations to lend a Helping Hand to those who need assistance with their winter electric bills.”

Customers who need help paying their electricity bills can receive up to $300 toward their bill if a local energy assistance program agency determines they are eligible based on need and other criteria. Duke Energy Indiana partners with the Indiana Community Action Association and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s Energy Assistance Program, which distributes the company’s assistance funds.

“Last year, the program was able to assist over 5,700 Indiana households maintain their utility service,” said Ed Gerardot, executive director of the Indiana Community Action Association, in the release. “Beyond that, the assistance allows low-income Hoosiers to have increased resources for other household needs.”

The utility’s operations in Indiana provide electricity to about 820,000 customers. It’s the state’s¬†largest electric supplier.