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With Home Heating Bills Forecasted to Surge This Winter, Collins, Golden Lead 56 Colleagues to Urge Emergency Supplemental Funding for LIHEAP

The letter was co-signed by Senator King and Representative Pingree

Washington, DC – As the price of home heating oil hovers at a record high, U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representative Jared Golden (D-ME) are leading a bipartisan, bicameral push to increase funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps over 5.3 million households nationwide afford their energy bills.


Senators Collins and Jack Reed (D-RI) and Representatives Golden, Andrew Garbarino (R-NY-02), and Peter Welch (D-VT) spearheaded the efforts in their respective chambers to urge the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees to address the expected surge in home energy prices with emergency supplemental funding for LIHEAP.  Their letter was signed by a total of 58 Members of Congress, including Senator Angus King (I-ME) and Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME).


“In light of skyrocketing home energy bills and additional increases expected for this winter, we urge the Committee to provide emergency supplemental funding for this critical program,” the 58 members of Congress wrote.


Annual federal funding levels are currently set to reach about $4 billion in fiscal year 2023.  However, more is needed as cost increases have diminished the purchasing power of LIHEAP dollars.  The price of home heating oil nearly doubled in the past year, and electricity and natural gas prices are projected to rise significantly.


“The Committee’s efforts to increase the annual appropriation for LIHEAP for Fiscal Year 2023 represents an important commitment to restoring funding to the levels reached over a decade ago.  However, because of the run-up in natural gas, heating oil, and electricity prices, we are deeply concerned that we will not meet the needs of low-income families this winter,” the U.S. Senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives continued.  “The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index recently reported alarming increases across all sources of home energy fuel over the past 12 months.  Natural gas is up 38.4 percent from this time last year – the largest such increase since the period ending in October 2005.  Electricity is up 13.7 percent – the largest such increase since the period ending in April 2006 – and heating oil is up 98.5 percent.”


“In a normal year, LIHEAP plays a critical role in offsetting burdensome heating and cooling costs that strain the budgets of financially vulnerable Americans.  However, this winter, LIHEAP will be more important than ever in helping families afford their energy bills.  We urge you to help states prepare for a particularly tough winter ahead by appropriating emergency supplemental funding for this critical program,” the letter concluded.


As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins has long led efforts to fully fund the LIHEAP program.  She also led the successful push to include $500 million in LIHEAP funding in the bipartisan infrastructure law. Congressman Golden has consistently advocated for LIHEAP funding throughout his time in Congress and has introduced legislation to increase federal resources for the program this winter.


LIHEAP aid delivered more than $90 million to Maine last year to help residents save on their home energy bills.  In Maine, 42,500 households benefitted from LIHEAP last season, with the average annual benefit covering $722 in home heating costs. About 6,400 Maine households also received LIHEAP crisis grants, with the average benefit of $739.


LIHEAP is administered by states and accessed through local Community Action Agencies.  Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on income, family size, and the availability of resources.


Click here for the full text of the letter.