Category Archives: LIHEAP

Christina Nyquist Calling on Congress to Help Low-Income Natural Gas Customers

Senate to Set LIHEAP Funding Levels This Week

This week, the U.S. Senate will make key decisions regarding the ability of vulnerable energy customers to meet their basic home heating and cooling needs. Since 2010, funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has dropped by nearly $2 billion and the President’s budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 calls for just $2.8 billion – less than half of the $5.1 billion allocated in FY2010. Even when LIHEAP was funded at $5.1 billion, that amount was only enough to assist one in five eligible Americans.

Today, June 10, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee, which funds the LIHEAP program, will mark up their Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations spending bill, setting target funding levels for LIHEAP and other critical programs. The Senate Full Appropriations Committee is then expected to take up the bill on Thursday, June 12.

The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEAUC), AGA and low-income energy assistance supporters are calling on Congress to help ensure that all Americans can access essential energy to support their daily needs. AGA has signed a multi-party NEAUC letter, which will be delivered to every member of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

Are you a low-income assistance organization or a utility representative? Sign the multi-party letter here.

You can help spread the word through social media or by contacting your representatives. AGA and NEAUC are sharing messages on Twitter at @AGA_naturalgas and @liheapcampaign using the hashtag #LIHEAP. Make sure to mention @SenateApprops in your tweets.

Photo Credit: Center for American Progress

Photo Credit: Center for American Progress

With U.S. Census data showing that more than 46 million Americans live in poverty and that the average low- and fixed-income family spends 13.5 percent of its annual income on energy – nearly twice the 7.2 percent spent by the average U.S. household – the need for sufficient LIHEAP funding is great.

AGA and America’s local natural gas utilities are committed to helping all customers meet their energy needs through efficiency programs and bill payment assistance. In 2012, utilities contributed nearly $3.7 billion in assistance to low-income customers – roughly equal to the $3.47 billion provided in LIHEAP funding that year. This assistance included discounted rates, arrearage forgiveness, weatherization and efficiency programs, and support to charitable organizations that provide resources for customers in need. Utilities also spent $1.1 billion in natural gas efficiency programs for all customers in 2012, helping homes and businesses reduce their typical annual natural gas usage by an average 16 percent and save $117 in annual energy costs.

You can find more information about LIHEAP in a 2014 report, Investing in LIHEAP, and individual state factsheets detailing funding scenarios, demographic information and the number of households served.

Posted in LIHEAP, Natural Gas, people, safety, weather, winter heating | Comments Off

Lisa O'Leary AGA Members Unveil LIHEAP Trolley Tour in Western PA

Four utility members of the American Gas Association (AGA) located in Western Pennsylvania kicked off the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for the 2012-2012 winter heating season with the announcement of a new outreach program.

The “Partners for Warmth” — comprised of Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Equitable Gas Company, Peoples Natural Gas, and Peoples TWP — officially launched the new LIEHAP Trolley Tour in an effort to spread awareness of available funds. The trolley, powered by clean natural gas, will make stops in Pittsburgh, Homestead, Washington, Aliquippa, Butler and New Kensington and provide assistance in applying for LIHEAP to area residents.

LIHEAP is a block grant program under which the federal government gives states annual funds to operate home energy assistance programs for low-income households that struggle to heat their homes in the winter and cool them during the hot summer months. Each year, AGA joins the National Fuel Funds Network in sponsoring LIHEAP Action Day, a day of activities aimed at building awareness about this life-saving program on Capitol Hill. AGA advocated for at least $5.1 billion in LIHEAP funding for FY2013, but only $3.472 billion was approved.

“Approximately $200 million in LIHEAP funds are available to Pennsylvania residents this winter heating season to stay safe and warm in their homes,” said Equitable Gas President Bill Lucas. “It is vital that individuals and families receive the assistance they need.  Therefore, the Partners for Warmth continue our joint LIHEAP promotion efforts to let our customers know help is available.  Our ambitious goal is to have every customer who is qualified for a LIHEAP grant apply for a LIHEAP grant between now and March 29, 2013.”

Eligibility guidelines for LIHEAP change, and customers who may not have been eligible in the past are encouraged to reapply. For the 2012-2013 winter heating season, the income eligibility limit is 150% of federal poverty income guidelines. This means a family of four cannot exceed an annual income of $34,575 to be eligible.  The minimum grant for the heating season is $100.  LIHEAP closes March 29, 2013, or earlier if funds run out.

To learn more about LIHEAP funding and how to apply, visit

Posted in LIHEAP, utility, winter heating | Comments Off

Christina Nyquist Advocates Descend on Capitol Hill for Summer LIHEAP Action Day

Citizens from across our nation descended on Capitol Hill yesterday with a clear message for lawmakers: for millions of American households struggling to pay their energy bills, a fully-funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is as critical in the dog days of summer as it is in the frigid winter months.

“Record numbers of our fellow citizens have suffered this summer,” said Marsha Belcher, of the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County (CEDA), and chair of the National Fuel Funds Network (NFFN) Board of Directors. 2012 has seen an unprecedented number of heat-related deaths in the United States. “We are here because we want to help those families afford the energy they need to stay cool.”

After gathering at the headquarters of the American Gas Association, 65 LIHEAP advocates met with Congressional members and their staff from approximately 100 offices for almost seven hours to present their case and discuss why, even in tight budget times, energy assistance is for our nation’s most vulnerable and it must not be sacrificed. AGA joins these advocates in the belief that Congress should appropriate at least $5.1 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 for LIHEAP funding.

LIHEAP Action Day participants prepare to meet with Congress at AGA headquarters on Tuesday morning.

LIHEAP helps those who truly need the assistance. Here are the facts:

  • About 75 percent of LIHEAP households earn less than $15,000 a year.
  • 50 percent earn less than $10,000.
  • Almost all recipient households support someone who is disabled, elderly, or have a child under 6.
  • More than 40 percent of recipients are seniors living on fixed incomes.
  • 20 percent of LIHEAP recipients are veterans.

Patty Riddlebarger, of Entergy Corporation, said speaking with policymakers and telling themabout the people behind the LIHEAP numbers was “a positively inspirational experience.”

“Hearing the stories about the struggles of families in need and their courage in the face of hardships we can only imagine makes all the difference in helping our elected officials understand the significant impact that their support for LIHEAP can have on our neighbors in need,” she said.

LIHEAP is an effective, life-saving program. When LIHEAP was funded at its highest level in FY09 and FY10, that $5.1 billion helped about 8.9 million households, or about 23 million people. Still, that only assisted one out of five eligible Americans.

Now, the need for LIHEAP is greater than ever. Poverty and unemployment are at historic levels, increasing the number of households eligible for assistance. The number of veteran households seeking LIHEAP aid has jumped 150 percent since FY08. For more than half of America’s households, energy bills account for more than 20 percent of their budget. For those making less than $10,000 a year, energy costs eat up over 75 percent of their income. These homes must make tough choices, possibly sacrificing other needs in order to pay their utility bills.

Congress is proposing $3.47 billion and the Administration is proposing just $3.02 billion for FY13 for this crucial life-saving program. All in attendance agreed that these proposals fall woefully short of what is needed.

The day culminated with a presentation of the NFFN Extra Mile award to Congressman Gene Green of Texas. The award recognizes those who demonstrate exemplary leadership and strong support for increased LIHEAP funding by taking extra steps to speak out in a congressional committee or on the House floor, securing legislation, generating media coverage, or more.

Marsha Belcher of CEDA and chair of the NFFN Board of Directors and Kim Campbell of TXU Energy stand with Texas Congressman Gene Green as he receives the NFFN Extra Mile Award. Photo credit: Ed Rissing, Coalition for Affordable Energy for All

AGA was proud to provide a “home away from home” for these advocates as they continue the fight  for this important program.

Posted in energy, LIHEAP, people, safety, winter heating | 1 Comment

Lisa O'Leary Summer LIHEAP Action Day Heats Up This Tuesday

As the country continues to experience sweltering summer temperatures, now is the perfect time to raise awareness for the need for increased funding of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  The federal block grant program provides financial assistance to low and fixed-income individuals for fuel and utility bills, as well as low-cost weatherization and energy-related home repairs.

This Tuesday, July 31, the American Gas Association (AGA) along with the National Fuel Funds Network (NFFN) and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), will host the third annual Summer LIHEAP Action Day to drive awareness on Capitol Hill about this life-saving program.

LIHEAP advocates and recipients from across the United States will come together to lobby Congress to provide at least $5.1 billion for LIHEAP for FY 2013. In February, President Obama asked Congress for just $3 billion, down from $3.3 billion in FY 2012 and $5.1 billion in both FY 2010 and FY 2009.

With the current state of the economy, the number of Americans who can longer afford to heat and cool their homes continues to rise. Cuts to LIHEAP funding each fiscal year are making it even harder to help those in desperate need of support.

AGA will provide coverage of this Tuesday’s Summer LIHEAP Action Day across our various social media pages. Click on the links below to follow along:

Facebook | Twitter | Blog

Posted in LIHEAP, people, safety | 6 Comments