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According to a recent statewide survey, Vermonters appear to support helping low-income residents pay for electric bills. Over 70 percent of those surveyed believed commercial, residential and industrial ratepayers should pick up more of the tab. Those surveyed were also willing to shoulder an additional $1.25 on their monthly electric bills to help fund an electricity assistance program. According to the study released by American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Vermont, 300 Vermonters said that they dont want low-income energy consumers to go it alone. Survey respondents also talked about their frustrations with rising utility rates, affordability concerns, concerns about winter shut-offs and the need for additional low-income home energy assistance programs. Nearly 80 percent of survey takers said they want an assistance program to help make electricity more affordable, especially for lowincome customers. Vermont is the only New England state without some home electricity assistance for low-income citizens. The study also shows that a majority of residents surveyed support protections for utility customers with unpaid electric bills. More than eight in ten residents believe that utility companies should not be able to shut off services to customers during the winter months; nine in ten agree that winter shut-offs should not be allowed for low-income residents. The telephone survey was conducted for AARP Vermont by Alan Newman Research.

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