NRECA Joins 900 Other Concerned Parties Supporting LIHEAP

Letter to Congress urges ‘robust funding’ and protection from ‘damaging cuts’

LIHEAP isn’t just for winter. It helps cover air conditioning costs in the summer, too. (Photo By: Getty Images)
LIHEAP isn’t just for winter. It helps cover air conditioning costs in the summer, too. (Photo By: Getty Images)

NRECA is among the 941 signers of a letter urging Congress to protect funding for LIHEAP in fiscal 2019.

“Sufficiently funded, LIHEAP serves a vital, life-saving role, protecting millions from America’s cold winters and increasingly hot summers. Robust funding is necessary if LIHEAP is to continue to provide states and charities the resources to serve your most vulnerable constituents,” reads the letter from the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC) to appropriators in both the House and Senate.

“Please protect LIHEAP from damaging cuts and ensure service continuity to vulnerable Americans who desperately need this program’s services.”

The Trump administration’s fiscal 2019 spending plan calls for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program’s elimination, stating that “LIHEAP is unable to demonstrate strong performance outcomes.”

A diverse group of state and national organizations thinks otherwise.

NRECA joined fellow trade associations, as well as energy providers, charitable groups and others in signing the letter urging that LIHEAP be “a top priority in the FY19 Labor-HHS-Education funding bill.”

The letter noted that Congress limits LIHEAP eligibility to households earning no more than 150 percent of the federal poverty level or 60 percent of the state median income.

“For reference, the FY17 federal poverty guideline for a family of three was $30,240. Most LIHEAP recipients fall well below either threshold and many applicants are turned away each year due to insufficient program funds,” the letter said.

“We understand that Congress must make difficult budget decisions, but reducing LIHEAP funding is not the answer,” NEUAC added, noting that LIHEAP appropriations dropped 35 percent between fiscal years 2009 and 2017.

Funds were increased in the fiscal 2018 spending bill signed by President Trump in March. LIHEAP was given $3.64 billion, up from $3.39 billion. The final round of funding for this fiscal year was released April 23.

Michael W. Kahn is a staff writer at NRECA.