Connecticut will get $86 million to help families pay home heating costs
Connecticut will get $86 million in assistance to help lower heating costs for families this winter. It’s part of $4.5 billion in help for American families announced Wednesday.
Spending for the program is significantly higher than the typical annual funding of about $3.5 billion but far below the $8 billion the administration and congressional Democrats delivered last winter as part of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief package.
Money will be distributed through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP. The program helps families struggling with energy bills and also pays for home energy repairs to help lower bills.
This past year, LIHEAP served over 5 million households nationwide with heating, cooling and weatherization services. A similar number of households are expected to participate this year.
Ali Zaidi, a climate adviser with the Biden administration, addressed reporters Wednesday.
“Our partners in the United States Congress are delivering for the American people and helping households lower energy costs and shift to cleaner energy, to healthier ways of heating their homes,” Zaidi said.
The announcement of heating assistance comes in the waning days before Tuesday's elections that will determine which party controls Congress. Democrats are trying to contrast their efforts to help middle and low-income people through the $1 trillion infrastructure law and other legislative measures with Republican suggestions that they would use the debt limit as leverage for cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits and other federal programs.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, noted that energy costs are expected to rise sharply this winter.
"This money is a lifeline for thousands of low-income families and seniors on fixed incomes who rely on LIHEAP to stay safe and warm during the winter months, and it is critical these funds are distributed as quickly as possible,” Murphy said in a statement.
Lawmakers from Connecticut and across New England had recently been seeking federal assistance to address home energy prices.
News of the funding comes as the leader of a New England energy company recently issued a warning: The region’s power supply might not be able to withstand extreme cold weather this winter.
In a related announcement, the Energy Department said Wednesday it will begin allocating $9 billion approved under the new climate and health law for a program aimed at supporting energy upgrades to 1.6 million households over the next 10 years. Officials expect to make funding available starting next year to states and tribes to better protect homes against the weather and install some 500,000 new heat pumps.
Interested in applying for energy assistance? Visit energyhelp.us or call the National Energy Assistance Referral hotline at 1-866-674-6327.
Connecticut Public's Jeff Cohen contributed to this report. This story contains information from the Associated Press.