© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Operation Fuel ends assistance program early, citing spikes in demand and energy costs

Fuel oil delivered to a bulk tank on a farm in Illinois.
Daniel Acker / Getty Images
Bloomberg Creative Photos
Fuel oil is delivered to a bulk tank on a farm in Illinois.

Operation Fuel is shutting down its winter and spring energy assistance program early. The nonprofit announced it will close the program on Friday, April 14, citing spikes in fuel costs and extreme demand.

“I’ve never seen it like this in the 13 years that I’ve been with the organization,” said Brenda Watson, Operation Fuel’s executive director. “I’ve never seen this many people seeking assistance.”

Earlier this year, Operation Fuel paused applications for energy assistance due to extreme demand. The window for applications briefly opened again in April, but the group signaled another closure was looming.

On Wednesday, Operation Fuel said it was closing its program until August.

“We were hopeful that we would be able to get through the backlog in March, but it’s just an onslaught,“ Watson said. She said that the organization still has about 10,000 applications that haven’t been processed and that not all applicants will receive aid.

“Perhaps we will have to prioritize folks that are living on fixed incomes or people who are living with disabilities,” Watson said. “Prioritize those folks first, seniors, and then go from there.”

Between December and April, the group said it provided nearly $8 million in energy assistance to 8,000 households. “The demand for energy assistance from the nonprofit has increased substantially from a year ago, when Operation Fuel served 6,502 households all year,” the organization said in a statement.

During February and March, Operation Fuel received over 6,000 calls, and about 100 applications a day, according to Watson.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, energy prices spiked across the world.

Operation Fuel plans to resume providing energy assistance when its summer and fall program opens on Aug. 1 for fiscal year 2023-24.

“Anyone who needs energy assistance through May 31, should contact their utility company or the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) by calling 211,” Watson said in a statement.

This story has been updated.

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.
Matt Dwyer is an editor, reporter and midday host for Connecticut Public's news department. He produces local news during All Things Considered.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content