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Rep. Salazar asks Ritter’s help during cold spell

Posted: Friday, Jan 25th, 2008

US Rep. John Salazar

Concerned about effects on Valley residents


ALAMOSA — A record period of extreme cold temperatures in the San Luis Valley has prompted Cong. John Salazar to request the assistance of Gov. Bill Ritter to ease hardships residents may experience.

“It is my sincere hope that we can work together to explore options that will help alleviate the impacts of this winter’s high energy costs on the low income people and working families of Colorado,” Salazar wrote to the governor.

During January, Alamosa has registered eight days with lows below -20, and 20 days where the high was below freezing. The high for the month so far has been 40, while the low, recorded Jan. 17, was -32. The normal average low for January is -4.

Salazar asked Ritter to step up the processing of pending applications for LEAP, a federally funded program administered by the Colorado Department of Human Services that helps pay heating costs for low income residents.

According to Salazar, as of Jan. 10, there were over 770 pending applications for LEAP from the San Luis Valley - 126 from Saguache County, 149 from Costilla County, 172 from Conejos County, 252 from Alamosa County, and 74 from Rio Grande County.

Salazar noted that Colorado’s allocation of LEAP money from the feds had grown from $33 million in 2007 to $39.4 million for 2008.

“Finally, I am very concerned that power shut-offs, even temporarily, could result in homelessness, serious injury or even loss of in such extreme temperatures,” Salazar wrote. “Please work with the Public Utilities Commission and your Energy Office to mitigate any power shut-offs for San Luis Valley residents until more seasonable temperatures are foreseeable.”

The governor’s spokesman, Evan Dreyer, said the governor’s office would look very closely at the issues raised by Salazar. “If there’s a problem, we’ll continue to explore how we can act, and act quickly,” he said.

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