Hartford nonprofit Operation Fuel, which provides several million dollars in heating and energy assistance to low-income households, has for the first time added a Connecticut utility to its roster of so-called fuel banks, which help needy residents sign up for aid.
Norwich Public Utilities will accept applications from Norwich residents until May 31 for the winter assistance program and also will take applications during the summer, Operation Fuel said.
NPU signed on as a fuel bank in November, after a local social service agency that had been accepting assistance applications suffered budget cuts.
Operation Fuel said in its most recent newsletter that application volume hasn't been high, but that NPU hopes that will change as more customers realize they can apply for assistance at the utility.
"Without our fuel banks and their dedicated staff, many vulnerable families and individuals would not have access to Operation Fuel's services," Brenda Watson, Operation Fuel's director of community programs, said in a statement.
The nonprofit provided $3.2 million in energy assistance to 7,705 households in fiscal year 2016. Its largest funding sources are fines and settlements related to utility violations, government grants, and a program that allows residents to voluntarily contribute a dollar through their electric bill payments.