It’s summer time and the living is “hot” and for those low-income residents who have been adversely affected by the extreme hot weather you can get assistance. ComEd has announced the availability of a $3 million assistance program and South Austin Coalition at 342 S. Laramie is working overtime helping residents apply for the help.

One grateful resident, Mrs. Algerine Edwards, along with her daughter, Adrienne Hammons, had this to say about the program. “It helps me because I’m elderly and my utilities were off, and I didn’t know where to go to get it restored. I found out through the Austin Weekly newspaper.”

Adrienne added, “I usually come and do my mother’s paperwork for her, but today she wanted to come and get things straight. By her being on a fixed income, this helps a lot because she does not have the money.”

South Austin Coalition Executive Director Bob Vondrasek introduced Mrs. Lillian Drummond one of SACCC’s leading organizers and fighters or, as Bob referred to her, “the Rosa Parks of utilities.”

Mrs. Drummond said, “We’re here today to try to get everyone we can to come out and apply for energy assistance on your lights. Please have the light bill in your name. If you can come over to 5071 W. Congress Pkwy., the Austin Senior Satellite Center, we’ll be glad to take you. This should be spread all over, but a lot of people are not even hearing about it. People should be checking it out, but they are not. You can also come to 342 S. Laramie and these places should be filled. Bush has sent a little money but he needs to send some more.”

Cong. Danny Davis said, “Let me just commend all of our partners?”ComEd, Illinois Commerce Commission, The Legal Assistance Foundation, and, of course, South Austin Coalition. I certainly want to highlight the involvement and participation of Mrs. Drummond and Rev. Elizabeth Bynum. They are two of our local heroes. And I want to commend the leadership of Bob Vondrasek and his continuation because South Austin has been the premiere community organization in the city of Chicago dealing with utility needs and dealing with the utility question. I commend Commonwealth Edison because [how often] can you get corporate America to put in its own money, $3 million, to make sure that low-income residents have the opportunity to have their utilities available to them? You need to have a fan and air-conditioning in the summertime. It gets pretty hot in Chicago. So I commend the utility company, ComEd, and I also commend the governor of the State of Illinois, for releasing $8 million. Gov. Blagojevich understands that you can’t just have heat in the winter time. If you don’t have assistance for energy to keep cool in the summertime, then you’re in bad shape.”

Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman Edward Hurley said, “I’d like to make it very clear that this Cool Care initiative will not be funded through electricity rates or paid by the customers on their monthly bills. This is an important distinction, especially for us at the ICC. This money comes strictly from shareholders’ profits and at no time will the company seek recovery through rates.

“While ComEd is showing yet again that it is a good-purpose citizen, I want to emphasize the need for increased LIHEAP funding on the federal level. Home energy services are a fundamental need of modern society and Congress really needs to take a long hard look at how it funds our LIHEAP program. We need a reasonable approach to allow more citizens to qualify for this important program, while also increasing the benefit for those who do qualify.”

Commissioner Lula Ford noted, “LIHEAP eligible customers can apply to the ComEd Cool Care fund for asistance with their summer electricity bills and for reconnection if they need it. With this new program we will be able to help 3,000-14,000 ComEd customers with their electricity bills. The energy grant applications will be processed through a network of local and administrative agencies in Northern Illinois. For more information on LIHEAP call 1-800/252-8643.

“And I’d like to give a few tips on how you can conserve energy:

 keeping your thermostat at a constant level between 75-78 while at home,

 reduce the moisture in the air,

 do not wash during the hottest time of the day using your washing machines, dryers and dishwashers,

 keep your shades and blinds closed,

 by all means turn off unnecessary appliances.”

ComEd Director of External Affairs Todd Banks said, “We work with the different ward offices across the city of Chicago, our alderman ward offices, so we have also used them as part of communicating information to their residents as well.”

Vondrasek said the effort to inform people seems to be working. “We’ve had over 400 come in since Monday at just this location,” he said.

Thanks to Michael Fountain, director of Consumer Services, Illinois Commerce Commission, for keeping local newspapers and community organizations informed.