September 17, 2008

Reed, Whitehouse Announce an Additional $1.9 Million in Emergency LIHEAP Funding for RI Families

WASHINGTON, DC — In response to a request led by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the President today directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to release the remaining $120.7 million from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) contingency fund – just days before the end of the fiscal year when the fund was due to lapse. Rhode Island will receive $1,925,448 of this federal funding to help families struggling with high energy bills heat their homes this coming winter. Senator Reed has already secured over $20.8 million in LIHEAP funding for Rhode Island this fiscal year, including $7.2 million in emergency funding.

On June 27, Reed, Whitehouse, and 43 of their Senate colleagues sent a bipartisan letter to the President requesting the release of the full contingency fund. In August, Reed again wrote the President to reiterate this request.

“I am pleased that President Bush listened to Congress and finally released this funding. This new infusion of federal aid will provide real assistance for Rhode Islanders who continue to struggle with record high energy prices,” said Reed, who is also spearheading an effort in Congress to provide an additional $2.5 billion in emergency funding for LIHEAP. “In Rhode Island, nearly 30,000 households rely on LIHEAP to assist with the costs of heating their homes each year and to pay delinquent utilities bills so they can re-establish service. This emergency funding will allow more states to deliver LIHEAP benefits to people in need and prevent thousands of working families and seniors in Rhode Island from having their utilities shut off.”

“This is welcome news for Rhode Islanders looking ahead to a cold winter, but with oil prices near $100 a barrel, we need to do more. I hope the Senate will have an opportunity to pass, and that it will pass, the ‘Warm in Winter and Cool in Summer Act’ before it adjourns,” Whitehouse said. “Senator Reed has been a tireless and recognized advocate on behalf of Rhode Island families in need of energy assistance, and I’m proud to stand with him in this effort.”

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently projected that natural gas and heating oil will be at record highs this winter, with the average household using heating oil seeing their bills increase 30 percent over last winter, and 19 percent for households that use natural gas.

LIHEAP is a federal block grant program that provides states with annual funding to operate home energy assistance programs for low-income households. Last year, 5.8 million low-income households nationwide, including nearly 30,000 in Rhode Island, relied on LIHEAP to assist with the costs of heating and cooling their homes.

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