HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The demand for energy assistance in Connecticut is through the roof due to energy costs.

Eversource and United Illuminating are raising their rates, resulting in more families needing help to pay their heating bills this winter — an unprecedented demand seen firsthand by Operation Fuel.

The calls are coming in, the email requests are coming in, and we are still trying to dig out from what happened in the fall-summer season, so we’re still processing applications,” Operation Fuel Executive Director Brenda Watson said.

Watson said that applications for energy assistance are up 17% from the same time last year. She said many of the applicants are households that never needed fuel assistance.

“I feel like history is repeating itself. That was 1922; now it’s 2022, where state agencies are working with us and ensuring that we receive additional funds so that we can serve more people, “Watson told News 8.

Gov. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.) signed a $200 million relief package, which includes an additional $30 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding to supplement the Low-Income Household Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and $4.5 million will go to Operation Fuel.

Watson said it could mean an increased benefit from $500 to 1,000 to cover the costs of fuel deliveries. Every dollar counts as Connecticut residents face increases of as much as 50% in their monthly electric bills as Eversource and UI filed new supply rates with the state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), citing surging ongoing global demand for natural gas.

“It’s time we took a look at what the power suppliers are charging the utilities, which then, unfortunately, have to pass on those costs to the customers,” Watson said. “We have to look at the source of the problem.”

Earlier this week, Eversource and UI filed a motion for approval to set up $10 bill credits for customers starting Jan. 1, 2023. The utility companies are requesting an additional discount for low-income customers.

Need Assistance?

If you need home heating assistance, call 211, or apply to the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program. Basic benefits toward heating bills range between $410 and $1,015, depending on the household’s income level.

Eversource can visit Eversource.com/Billhelp to read more about payment options or call 1-800-286-2828 (electric) or 800-438-2278 (gas). Eversource will host two webinars on Dec. 1 and 8. to help customers understand their options.

United Illuminating also has several programs to help customers who need assistance paying their bills. Customers can visit the UI website or call (800) 722-5584 for more information.+

Operation Fuel Assistance provides emergency energy and utility assistance to those facing acing financial crisis. Call (860) 243-2345 or visit its website

Connecticut residents can compare energy prices at EnergizeCT and sign up with an alternative energy supplier.

Unite CT offers heating assistance for tenants and landlords. Eligible renters with overdue or unpaid electricity bills can receive funding for their Eversource or UI accounts.