Caritas and Verbund Initiate Electric Assistance Fund

11/4/2009Wien

The Verbund sponsored electric assistance fund initiated by Caritas is designed to help destitute people in Austria free themselves of the hardships caused by above-average energy consumption at below-average income.

"Saving energy is both necessary and important for all, rich or poor. However, for poor people, the issue is also an existential one," Franz Küberl, President of Caritas, stated emphatically.

Because: "When it comes to energy consumption, people living on or below the poverty line are trapped in a vicious circle. They usually can't afford good, energy-saving instruments. Very often they live in apartments with poorly insulated windows and doors and badly insulated exterior walls. They lack the access to information as to how to go about saving energy. Then, when people in this situation can't pay their electric bills, the charges accumulate by reminder fees. All of this raises the energy costs. Of people who haven't got the financial means to take care of even the bare necessities," Franz Küberl, President of Caritas, said at the hour of birth of the Verbund sponsored Caritas electric assistance fund in Vienna on Wednesday.

Emergency relief for up to 500 households
This pioneering initiative on the part of Verbund and Caritas is conceived to help destitute people in Austria escape from the tap posed by above-average energy consumption at below-average income. "We will be assisting 400 to 500 low-income households in Austria and helping them lower their energy costs sustainably. At the same time, we hope to make a contribution to climate protection that not everyone can afford," Verbund CEO Wolfgang Anzengruber asserted. Austria's leading electricity company is financing the organization of fund assistance by feeding an annual amount of 1 Euro per Verbund customer, of which there are currently more than 200,000, into the fund. "We're helping together and thanks to our customers," commented Anzengruber.

Energy consultants of 12 energy consulting companies throughout Austria tend to the needs of the clients of the 33 Caritas Social Action Network centres throughout Austria according to the individual households. They asses the "energy traps" and give valuable advice on how to save energy. Financial bridge assistance for electric bills, independent of the power supplier, and assistance in the replacement of old power-gobbling appliances additionally help affected persons manage their electric bills. After one year the energy consultants will examine the efficiency measures taken.

Already helping: Bosch, Siemens and Neff
"We don't just want to contribute ourselves, though, we also want to get other companies to join our campaign and help spread the assistance. The fund is open to all who want to help," said Anzengruber. The companies specializing in household appliances - Bosch, Siemens and Neff - have already heeded the call and are assisting the afflicted with refrigerators, washing machines and other appliances in the amount of Euro 30,000. "Needy households in particular need to save energy and, hence, costs. In this regard, electrical appliances play a crucial role. The household appliance companies Bosch, Siemens and Neff consider it an honour to be able to support the Verbund sponsored Caritas electric assistance fund by means of cutting-edge and energy saving household appliances," Franz Schlechta, Managing Director of BSH Hausgeräte GmbH Austria stated.

"However, in order to prevent energy costs from becoming a stumbling stone, numerous creative ideas are needed, as well as the initiative on the part of those responsible in politics," Küberl commented: Next to the quick implementation of a demand-oriented minimum collateral with uniform and transparent rules as well as a legal claim, the Caritas President, in this context, requires a purpose-oriented granting of housing subsidies for thermal restoration. "As is already the case with Burgenland, Lower Austria and Salzburg, so the other provinces are also asked to take the necessary measures to ensure that free energy consultation is offered to private households," Küberl further added.

Donations to
PSK 510 062 540, BLZ 60.000
Password: Stromhilfefonds

Further information can also be found on the pages "Our Commitment" and on the Caritas website.