The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal block grant program that 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.
LIHEAP is administered by the states, with the states having maximum flexibility in directing program funds. In addition, state and local governments provide assistance through taxpayer-funded initiatives. Fuel funds and other charitable groups provide direct assistance, funded by donations, to those in need. Utilities help these customers through discounts, fee waivers, arrearage forgiveness, and efficiency/weatherization programs, funded by customers and stockholders.
When LIHEAP was created in 1981, it was funded at $2 billion. LIHEAP funding has remained relatively close to that level—even though the average energy bill has tripled and the consumer price index has increased by 80 percent since that time. The number of low-income homes also has grown, as evidenced by the 66 percent jump in households eligible for federal energy aid between 1981 and 2002. Finally, the costs of all home-heating fuels, including natural gas, are currently at historic highs, so programs that help low-income households pay their energy bills are more critical than ever.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 reauthorized LIHEAP through 2007 and increased the authorization for the basic grant to $5.1 billion. For FY 08, Congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill which provided the second highest level of funding in the program’s history: $2.6 billion.
AGA strongly supports the $5.1 billion in LIHEAP funding, as authorized in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. AGA has taken the lead to increase LIHEAP funding for all states by building a strong coalition of energy trades, state and local governments and nonprofit organizations. If funded at the full $5.1 billion, LIHEAP could assist more than twice the current number of beneficiary households. This could provide assistance to 30 percent of those eligible for home heating aid.
AGA Contact: Tom Moskitis (202) 824-7031, firstname.lastname@example.org