The utility company said it has partnered with the United Way of Greater St. Louis to offer $500,000 in income relief energy assistance funds for electric and gas customers who are struggling financially due to reduced hours or layoffs because of COVID-19.
In addition, Ameren said it’s increased its partnership with Heat Up Missouri to a total of $500,000 to help fund energy assistance programs for seniors, disabled individuals, and other customers.
“We understand the importance of assisting our customers during times of need which is why we already have robust energy assistance programs in place for seniors or financially challenged customers which we will continue to offer,” Tara Oglesby, vice president of customer experience at Ameren, said in a statement. “As a provider of a critical service, we want to assure customers that we will continue providing safe, reliable power, and also offer additional help to those financially affected by these extraordinary circumstances.”
The new Ameren Missouri Coronavirus Income Relief Program offers assistance to a bevy of workers — such as those in the restaurant industry or employed at daycares — who normally do not qualify for energy assistance. Ameren customers can apply for a $250 payment on their account through the 211helps.org/AmerenRelief.
Several utility companies in Missouri — including Ameren, Evergy, and Spire — have suspended disconnections for non-payments and are forgiving late payments for both residential and business customers.
Missouri American Water announced it would not disconnect service over non-payments during this time and would also begin restoring service to customers, noting how important “handwashing and good hygiene” is during this time.
At least 47 Missourians have tested positive for COVID-19 this month, including two individuals in Cole County. One person from Boone County has died.
Gov. Mike Parson has declared a state of emergency, and many government offices and operations are shuttered. Businesses, restaurants, and schools have also closed as local officials have mandated no large crowds. Cole County has instructed all restaurants and bars to close after this weekend.
The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” while the disease is called “coronavirus disease 2019,” or “COVID-19.” It can cause severe respiratory illnesses with symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned.
There have been more than 15,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., and 201 deaths, according to the CDC. More than 300 people in Missouri have been tested.
The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has opened a public hotline operated by medical professionals around the clock seven days a week. The hotline number is 877-435-8411.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at email@example.com.