The outlook for a full year appropriation for LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) are increasingly dim. Low income advocates and the big utilities that receive the funds are pressing for $5.1 billion, which would match last year's appropriation. At this point, $3.3 billion is looking more likely.
The Alliance for Green Heat is working with heating assistance groups and trying to expand the opportunities for low income homes that use wood and pellets for heat. LIHEAP data provides some extremely interesting insight into low income families that heat with wood. For example, with the fossil fuels the number of low-income families using those fuels correlates with the number of families receiving assistance to pay for those fuels. But with wood, of the approximately 3% of low income families that use wood, less than 1% receives assistance for it.
The Alliance is currently looking for experts and stakeholders who have knowledge and experience with LIHEAP.
The following analysis is provided by the National Low Income Energy Consortium: Lawmakers moved into the August recess without having reached agreement on the appropriations bill to fund the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education – a measure that includes funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. If they fail to approve the funding bill before the start of the new fiscal year, the likely scenario would be passage of a continuing resolution after the November elections. “For planning purposes, that will make it extremely difficult to plan on an appropriations level,” said Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association. “In the past, most continuing resolutions have provided for the lesser of the House or Senate [funding] level and sometimes they approve operating on the same spend-out rate as the previous year.” As such, he said, states could be left in a situation where they will be entering the program year with access to 60 percent of last year’s funding level. The House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over LIHEAP funding provided $5.1 billion for the program, the same level as last year. The Senate Appropriations Committee provided $3.3 billion, the same level as in the President’s budget request. The Senate bill also included language that its recommendation assume enactment of the “trigger” provision proposed by Present Obama to would provide additional funding based on higher prices and other factors