Senior citizens in South Carolina will soon benefit from a program that will help them better manage their utility bills by making their homes more energy efficient, thanks to a $1 million donation from Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC). In the DEC 2013 rate case settlement agreement, the utility agreed to make a shareholder contribution of $1 million to support senior-citizen outreach.
A large portion of the donation will create the Senior Weatherization Fund, which will support projects of qualified nonprofit organizations that rehabilitate and weatherize houses for senior citizens across the Palmetto State. The remainder of the donation will be used to improve SC Access, a public information and referral website through the Office on Aging. This website serves as a resource tool for caregivers, seniors, and family members.
“This project is another terrific example of public and private entities joining forces to accomplish a much needed goal,” said South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster. “The Senior Weatherization Fund will provide deserving, less fortunate seniors an opportunity to safely remain in their own homes longer.”
The specific process for applying for assistance through the program will be finalized soon. Basically, the funds will go to the Central Carolina Community Foundation that will create the Senior Weatherization Fund. Financial awards will ultimately be made to qualified nonprofits that provide weatherization services to low-income seniors.
- The funds are in an endowment managed by the Central Carolina Community Foundation.
- Sustaining Our Seniors of SC (SOS) officers are the advisors to the fund and are responsible for working with the Foundation to distribute funds and vet potential partners.
- Funds are used to support the work of qualified non-profit organizations that rehabilitate and weatherize houses for senior citizens.
- Individuals are not eligible to receive funds from the endowment.
- The fund was launched using $750,000 donated by Duke Energy shareholders.
- The fund will provide services statewide.
- The principal is invested, and a designated percentage of the earnings will be withdrawn each year beginning in the fall of 2015.
- SOS is in the process of vetting nonprofits who would meet the criteria to provide services.
- Home Works of America is already an approved partner.
- Plans exist for possible fundraising to augment the Fund.
- This program is not for emergency repairs; the focus is on repairs and weatherization that will reduce energy consumption and utility costs.
- Local Area Agencies on Aging may wish to keep a wait list of individuals to be considered for service at a later date.
“The Sustaining Our Seniors board would like to thank all those who have had a part to play in creating this unique opportunity to assist South Carolina seniors,” said Coretta Bedsole, board chair for Sustaining Our Seniors. “Through the Senior Weatherization Fund, we anticipate working with organizations around the state to provide services that would otherwise not be available.”
“The Senior Weatherization Fund is a prime example of the good that can result from cooperation between the public and private sectors,” said Dukes Scott, executive director of the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS).
“The generosity of Duke’s shareholder contribution, the decision of the PSC to approve the settlement, and the foresight of the Lieutenant Governor’s office came to fruition in creating this unique program to benefit seniors at no cost to tax payers or electric customers,” Scott said.
“Duke Energy has proudly been part of the communities we serve for more than a century,” said Clark Gillespy, Duke Energy’s state president in South Carolina. “Supporting initiatives like this that help seniors is a perfect way for us to give back and help continue to build strong communities across the Palmetto State.”
“We want to make it easy for people and companies to give, so we’re delighted to be working with Sustaining Our Seniors and Duke Energy,” said JoAnn Turnquist, president and CEO of the Central Carolina Community Foundation. “Duke Energy has been a generous, longtime supporter of many needs in our community. We’re pleased to work with Sustaining Our Seniors and Duke Energy to help put their gift to good use in South Carolina.”
“We are honored to oversee these funds on behalf of Sustaining our Seniors,” Turnquist added. “The work of this organization helps seniors stay in their homes and neighborhoods and contributes to our efforts to build a more connected community.”