Low-income households get help with energy bills

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 2:45pm

U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) announced November 8 that Maine will receive $34.9 million worth of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding, which represents 90 percent of Maine’s total funding for this year.

Senator Snowe, along with Senator Reed (D-Rhode Island), secured language in the current continuing resolution that specifies the Administration shall allocate funding at last year’s levels. Last year, Maine received $38 million in LIHEAP funding.

“I am pleased that Maine will receive $34.9 million worth of LIHEAP funding this year, which will prove invaluable for our state’s most vulnerable families who will struggle to pay heating bills as colder temperatures arrive,” Snowe said.

“I have worked tirelessly throughout my entire congressional career to provide our least fortunate with basic heating assistance because I have personally heard and seen the serious challenges that a Maine winter presents to thousands of Maine households.

“While we have ensured LIHEAP will not face a draconian cut in funding from last year’s level, we in Congress must continue to work to find additional funding for the program because many families and elderly are too-often confronted with the impossible choice between warmth and other necessities, like prescription-drugs.

“Regrettably, the LIHEAP lifeline has been disproportionately cut over the last few years, but I am encouraged that this funding will protect Mainers from the bitter cold as we approach Thanksgiving and Maine’s harsh winter months,” Snowe said.

LIHEAP is the main federal program that helps low-income families and seniors on fixed-incomes with their energy bills, providing vital assistance during the cold winter months. It is a unique seasonal program where if funding is not finalized before winter, millions of low income households run the risk of not receiving assistance during the coldest months.

Last year Congress provided a total of $3.478 billion in LIHEAP funds for low-income households. According to the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association (NEADA), LIHEAP provided vital energy assistance to 8.9 million households in 2011, an increase of 54 percent since 2008.