State utility regulators have approved a plan expected to save low-income consumers about 25 percent on monthly electric bills.
Long advocated by AARP Vermont, the Energy Support Program will offer rate relief to about 37,000 customers of Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service. Individuals with annual income up to $16,335 and couples with up to $22,065 may qualify. Enrollment will begin in 2012.
Other states have found that lowering monthly payments helps low-income people pay their bills on time, thereby relieving the need for utilities to raise rates to cover the hidden costs of disconnections, reconnections and unpaid bills.
"Such programs are good social policy and make economic sense," said Philene Taormina, AARP Vermont advocacy director.
Copley Hospital in Morrisville is hosting two workshops this month to help families have successful conversations about keeping older drivers active in the community when the time comes to hang up the keys.
Slated for May 3 and 21, the We Need to Talk workshops are free. AARP developed the program to help families recognize the warning signs when a person's ability to drive safely deteriorates because of changes in eyesight, hearing or attention span. Participants will learn how to broach the subject and what to say. They also will learn how to help their loved one explore and use local transportation options.
For more information about these events, call Linda Shaw at 802-888-8369. To schedule a similar workshop in your community, contact AARP volunteer Dave Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-888-3394.
Keeping Cost-Effective Care
In an effort to stave off one of the harshest budget cuts proposed by Gov. Peter Shumlin, D, AARP is urging lawmakers to preserve a program that helps low-income, frail older or disabled people continue to live at home.
The Choices for Care program offers assistance with activities such as eating, bathing and household chores, as well as respite care. The governor's proposal would severely reduce such support services, which provide a cost-effective alternative to nursing home care.
"It is totally unrealistic to ask this small group of frail, low-income Vermonters to absorb these cuts," says Greg Marchildon, AARP state director. "Without Choices for Care, these people will end up in nursing homes at greater taxpayer expense."
To speak out against the cuts, call your legislators at 1-800-322-5616 and the governor at 1-800-649-6825.
Share the Road
AARP Vermont is leading a coalition of more than 40 organizations to push for legislation requiring transportation planners to consider all users when designing or repairing state roadways.
Passage of "complete streets" legislation would ensure every resident has a safe way to get around. Such streets accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit riders and people with disabilities.
By 2030, one in four Vermonters will be 65 or older. In a 2009 survey of transportation planners and engineers, however, two-thirds of respondents said they had not yet begun to address older people's needs.
To ask your legislator to support the complete streets bill, call 1-800-322-5616.