Bills for power used during South Carolina's two bouts with cold temperatures and snow are hitting mailboxes across the Midlands.

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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Bills for power used during South Carolina's two bouts with cold temperatures and snow are hitting mailboxes across the Midlands.

The price is high and already one state agency who helps with sticker shock says they've received a 42% increase in requests for help over the same time last year.

"It's become a major need in the community," said Dominic Ervolina, a United Way 211 operator whose fielded an increase in calls for help paying power bills.

The United Way says resources they normally point people to are running low and charity accounts are strapped.

"These organizations are experienced. They know how to help people," Ervolina said. "They've been doing it for a long time and the money that's in their coffers goes where it needs to go but those coffers are empty."

If you've got a power problem, the United Ways 211 can help you find funds that might be available to reduce the amount you owe.

They say it's worth checking in with charities once a week, as one time donations sometime replenish an account.

Power companies can help too by modifying your bill or changing your payment schedule.

"The Monday after Easter our calls doubled from the prior Monday," said Dawn Hipp with the Office of Regulatory Staff.

She says step one is to always call the power company.

If that doesn't work, you can call ORS at 1-800-922-1531.

A team of consumer investigators work with consumers and utilities to keep the power on.

"Those very high electric bills that were incurred in February, were now coming due and payments have been missed," Hipp said. "Things we're looking for? Number one: How can we help the consumer and the utility equitably and in a balanced approach."

211 Operators say even if a charity says they're out of money ... Check back once a week.
Some times group get surprise donations.
The same is true for churches in your area ... Who may be able to help if non profits accounts are drained.

211 Operators say even if a charity says they're out of money ... Check back once a week.
Some times group get surprise donations.
The same is true for churches in your area ... Who may be able to help if non profits accounts are drained.

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