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Colorado Avalanche scores an assist on energy bills

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Eric Galatas

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(Colorado News Connection) The Colorado Avalanche has teamed up with Xcel Energy to generate funds to help people struggling to pay their energy bills this winter. Every time the home team gets an assist, Xcel Energy will donate $1,000 to Energy Outreach Colorado. 

Denise Stepto, chief communications officer with Energy Outreach Colorado, the nonprofit that helps ratepayers who can't pay their heating bills, said a disproportionate number of households include children, people with physical or intellectual disabilities, and seniors living on fixed incomes.

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"So you can imagine that when your energy bill is going up, instead of staying stable, being able to afford that is really a challenge," she explained. 

For the uninitiated, assists are awarded in hockey when a scoring shot touches another player before going into the net, meaning they were "assisting" in the goal. As of January 25th, Xcel has donated $171,000 to Energy Outreach Colorado. If you need an assist, call toll free 866-HEAT-HELP, that's 866-432-8435.

For the week ending January 21st, Stepto said they received 555 applications for assistance, and spent more than $333,000 to help people stay warm. She added people who have never had to ask for assistance in the past are finding it hard to pay their bills.

"We are also seeing more younger people, people who are teachers, people who have never been in a tricky situation like this before," she continued. 

Last year, Energy Outreach Colorado helped more than 26,000 households with energy bills. Around 6,000 were households with older Coloradans, 7,600 people with disabilities, and more than 15,000 households had children.