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Co-ops, primary election adjust for pandemic

Scam alerts, assistance with electric bills and new voting procedures  

Scam alerts-please report

Electric cooperatives across Kentucky are reporting a surge in phone scams attempting to exploit the COVID-19 crisis. Scammers pose as local co-op employees and threaten to disconnect service without immediate payment.

In March, the Kentucky Public Service Commission issued an order for utilities it regulates to halt disconnections for nonpayment and fees for late payments, cautioning that these temporary measures do not relieve the obligation to ultimately pay bills in full.

“Always verify the identity of any caller who asks for personal information or payment over the phone,” says Attorney General Daniel Cameron. “We’re committed to stopping scammers who try to take advantage of Kentuckians during COVID-19, and we encourage consumers to report scam attempts to our office immediately by visiting https://ag.ky.gov/scams or calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at (888) 432-9257.”

Trouble with your bill?

COVID-19 business restrictions have squeezed the pocketbooks of Kentucky workers. An astounding 600,000-plus Kentuckians have filed for unemployment benefits, as of early May. 

Local electric cooperatives encourage consumer-members to pay what they can to avoid facing large balances in the future. Co-ops work with members on deferred payment plans and other assistance.

Applications are now being accepted until June 30 for a special spring 2020 enrollment period for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

“It will help take some of that stress off,” says Roger McCann, executive director of Community Action Kentucky. 

New voting dates, procedures

As he works to safely accommodate voting for Kentucky’s primary election, rescheduled for June 23, Secretary of State Michael Adams is endorsing the Co-ops Vote initiative. 

The campaign of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives began four years ago with the goal of reversing a downward trend in rural voting.  

In-person early voting is June 8 through June 23, under new sanitization standards due to COVID-19. The state has mailed every eligible registered voter a postcard with instructions to apply for an absentee ballot, which will be delivered by mail. 

“This plan fulfills my promise to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” says Adams. “Through expanding absentee voting—with appropriate safeguards—limiting the number of polling sites, and adopting in-person voting methods that limit personal contact, we prevent Mother Nature from disenfranchising Kentucky voters, while we also protect the lives of both our voters and our poll workers.”

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