| LIHEAP Enrollment Reaches Record
The National Energy Assistance Directors' Association (NEADA) has estimated that the number of households receiving energy assistance will rise 5.3 percent to at least 5.1 million this winter – a 4.7 percent gain over last year and the highest level since the 1980s.
NEADA released its most recent winter heating survey December 10. According to Mark Wolfe, Executive Director of NEADA, the numbers are preliminary and are based on a comparison with LIHEAP applications received last year at this time. They represent more than 250,000 families over last year at this time and an increase of about 850,000 families in the last three years.
States with projected increases of 10 percent or more compared to last year included: Florida 44.7 percent, Kansas 19.8 percent, Maine 15.7 percent, Montana 14.7 percent, Nevada 50 percent, New Hampshire 17.8 percent, North Carolina 16.6 percent, Texas 25.6 percent, Utah 14 percent, and Wyoming 15.6 percent.
Wolfe added that many state directors are concerned that these numbers could be conservative and could grow even faster as the winter heating season progresses. A copy of a table showing the expected enrollment increases by state is available on the NEADA website.
NEADA and other groups have attributed the rise to higher energy bills and an increase in poverty (see Low-Income Energy Resources). The cost for home heating this winter, according to recent data released by the Energy Information Administration, will increase from $953 to $1,179 for heating oil, $1147 to $1,404 for propane and $870 to $950 for natural gas. As a result, the buying power of the LIHEAP benefit is lessened. According to the most recent Census Bureau statistics, nearly 36 million Americans lived in poverty in 2003, an increase of 1.3 million from 2002. And since 2000, 4.4 million more people are living in poverty.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt announced January 31 the release of an additional $100 million in emergency funds to all states under the FY 2005 LIHEAP. The funds are being allocated to help low-income households cope with higher winter heating bills.
The formula for allocating funds under the second release is the same as the first release on December 23, 2004. Fifty percent of the funds ($50 million) are based on each state's share of the regular block grant allocation formula and 50 percent of the funds ($50 million) are based on the regular block grant allocation formula weighted by the relative percentage of low-income households in each state that uses heating oil and propane for heat.
With the two releases this winter totaling $200 million, a total of $97.6 million remains in emergency contingency funds that may be used for other potential winter emergencies or cooling crises this summer.
June 12-13, 2005: National Fuel Funds Network 21th Annual Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Phoenix Arizona
June 12-13, 2005: National Energy Assistance Directors' Association Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Phoenix, Arizona.June 13-16, 2005: National Low Income Energy Consortium 19th Annual Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Phoenix, Arizona.
States Find Variety of Funding Sources to Supplement Energy Assistance
Georgia PSC, Gas Company Contribute
Low-income households in Georgia have gotten some relief on their electric and gas bills through recent actions of the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) and a natural gas company.
On December 21, as part of its decision in a Georgia Power rate case, the PSC approved an increase in the utility's senior citizen discount to $14.00 per month from $10.50. The increase went into effect January 1. The PSC has mandated the discount since 1987 – major gas and electric utilities must waive their monthly service charge for customers age 65 or over, who own their homes, and earn less than $12,000 per year. As of 2003, around 55,000 seniors received the discount, amounting to about $7 million.
On November 2, the PSC unanimously approved the release of $3 million from the FY 2005 Universal Service Fund (USF) to help qualified low-income and senior citizens with their gas bills. The PSC also released $3.1 million in unallocated USF funds from FY 2004. The money was made available to the LIHEAP grantee, the Department of Human Resources (DHR), which disburses it through community action agencies across the state.
The USF was established by Georgia's original gas deregulation law and is funded through surcharges on large industrial users. Since 2001, the Commission has disbursed more than $21 million in assistance to low-income families and senior citizens to help pay winter natural gas bills.
On January 17, Georgia Natural Gas (GNG), the state's leading natural gas provider, announced it had donated $1 million to the Heating Energy Assistance Team (H.E.A.T.) Inc., a Georgia statewide fuel fund. The funds will be distributed over the next three years by the DHR through community action agencies. During winter 2003-2004, H.E.A.T. provided nearly $390,000 for energy assistance to more than 1,800 households statewide. Additionally, GNG offers qualifying senior households a regular senior discount of 10 cents per therm and in November it offered them a special pricing plan that gave them additional savings of 5 cents per therm.
Montana PSC, Governor Add to Funding
On December 21, the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) agreed to a stipulation requested by low-income, senior, and conservation advocates and NorthWestern Energy, the state’s largest utility, that increased NorthWestern’s low-income discount program for this heating season by $621,274.
The discount enables eligible gas and electric consumers to receive a percentage discount on their monthly gas and electric bills. The $621,274 will increase the current 15 percent low-income gas and electric discount to 25 percent. Assuming normal weather and normal energy demands, the increased bill discount will remain in effect until early May and then revert to its current level, according to the PSC.
The $621,274 comes from Universal System Benefit (USB) funds that were reshuffled from other accounts. The USB fund was established by the Montana Legislature in 1997 and, through a utility bill surcharge, provides funding for various public purposes, including conservation, renewable resource development, and low-income assistance.
Furthermore, on December 10, the state Department of Public Health and Human Services announced that $500,000 of a $2.3 million bonus it had received for performance of its welfare program would be funneled to the LIHEAP program. The $500,000 funding was spent within a couple weeks, according to state LIHEAP director Jim Nolan, who also reported in early December a 15 percent increase in LIHEAP applications over 2004.
Chicago Low-Income Get Help from City
Chicago city officials announced in early December that they will use $6.2 million of the proceeds from the lease of the Chicago Skyway (city property) to help low-income families pay their gas bills and to repair and insulate their homes.
Officials said the money would be set aside for spending over the next five years with about half going to supplement LIHEAP and other energy assistance programs and the other half going to the city’s Emergency Housing Assistance Program, through which low-income homeowners can obtain grants to pay for weather-related repairs or upgrades such as furnaces, insulation, plumbing, roofs and electrical systems.
In January the city made available grants of up to $500 per household to help LIHEAP recipients get their gas turned back on. An estimated 481 households had been cut off before the December 1 gas shutoff moratorium and needed 20 percent of their outstanding gas bill paid to get reconnected. The City sent eligibility letters to all 481 households, urging them to contact Peoples Energy, the local gas company, to get their service restored.
The city will donate remaining 2005 funds from the Chicago Skyway to the Peoples Energy “Share the Warmth” fuel fund that is administered by the Salvation Army.
Colorado Governor, Plus Settlement Yields $4.4 Million
On December 23, Colorado Governor Bill Owens announced that he had earmarked for the state’s LIHEAP some $2.4 million from interest the state has earned on federal funds. Using the earmark and LIHEAP emergency contingency funds that Colorado received in December, the state was able to increase its benefits by 14 percent, according to director Glenn Cooper.
The Governor then asked the Legislature to approve $7.6 million more to bring the state contribution up to $10 million. The extra funding would come from a state severance tax fund.
A Colorado Utility, Xcel Energy, must contribute $2 million to Energy Outreach Colorado (EOC) as a result of a settlement it reached in late December with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission resolving an investigation into the reliability of Xcel’s electric service.
The $2 million must come from Xcel shareholders, not ratepayers, and is to be spent only for assistance to Xcel customers. The settlement also calls for Xcel to spend $38 million in the next three years on distribution system upgrades.
EOC is a statewide program that raises and distributes funds for low-income energy assistance and weatherization in Colorado. EOC announced in late October that it will distribute over $5 million for bill payment assistance to low-income families in Colorado this fiscal year. It generates funds primarily through foundation grants, corporate contributions and private donations.
Arizona LIHEAP Gets Money from Utility Misdeeds
As part of a settlement last month with a natural gas company, Arizona’s LIHEAP will receive $2.5 million. A lawsuit filed by the state of Arizona accused the company, El Paso Corp. of Texas, of manipulating natural gas prices. In addition to the LIHEAP payment, the company will invest $43 million in capital projects. It will also pay for a study of how to diversify Arizona's energy supply and pay an additional $2 million to the Arizona attorney general's office.
Also, it was announced in December that Arizona Public Service Co., the state’s largest utility, must pay a fine of $4 million for violating Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rules and that $1.25 million of the fine will go to energy assistance for low-income Arizonans. The remainder of the fine, $2.75 million, will be used for utility system upgrades. APS can not get the money back through rate hikes, FERC said.
Michigan PSC Awards LIEE Funds
In separate rounds of grants in October and January, the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has awarded the state LIHEAP office and various nonprofits $43 million for low-income bill payment assistance and low-income energy efficiency.
Through the first round of funding in October, the Family Independence Agency (FIA), the LIHEAP grantee, received $10 million for low-income households to restore their energy services and to prevent shut-offs. Additionally, $9.3 million was awarded to the Michigan Community Action Agency, the Salvation Army and The Heat and Warmth Fund of Detroit for energy assistance programs these entities operate.
Also in October, the second round of funding provided the FIA with $4.24 million for a statewide partnership program with the community action and weatherization network to assist low-income households to become energy self-sufficient through energy efficiency upgrades and education. METRO Neighborhood Housing & Community Development received $1.7 million for an energy efficiency project.
On January 25, in response to severe weather and gas price increases, the PSC awarded $15 million to FIA and several nonprofits to assist low-income customers with their utility bills.
These grants are part of Michigan’s Low-Income and Energy Efficiency Fund, established in 2000 to provide shut-off and other protections for low-income customers and to promote energy efficiency.
Return to Contents
Kentucky Utilities Have New Heating Assistance Programs
The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) approved energy bill assistance programs on November 24 for Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E) and Kentucky Utilities (KU).
The programs are just getting started and couldn’t come at a better time, according to Kip Bowmar, executive director of Kentucky Association for Community Action. Noting that Kentucky’s LIHEAP crisis program opened January 10 and had spent 20 percent of its budget the first day, Bowmar said the new programs are especially important due to increased prices of propane and natural gas coupled with utility rate increases.
LG&E’s program provides a year-round fixed credit that varies by month and is based on the household’s income, size and utility bills for the previous 12 months, an adjustment for monthly normal heating degree days, and any significant changes in utility pricing. The credit can be applied to arrearages.
Keith Valade at the Metro Human Needs Alliance in Louisville emphasized that the program is not a discount, but a modified percent of income subsidy with a client co-payment – clients must keep current with their portion of the utility bill in order to stay enrolled in the program.
The program is modeled after LG&E’s All Season Assurance Plan (ASAP) that operated from 1993 to 2001. ASAP participants received a fixed credit on their bills equal to a percentage of their annual income. Part of the fixed credit was applied to arrearages when the participant entered the program.
The Affordable Energy Corporation created and administered ASAP and is administering LG&E’s new energy assistance program.
Outreach and enrollment for LG&E’s program is underway and bill credits are slated to begin February 1. Outreach included a mailing to 1,600 low-income LG&E customers inviting them to an orientation session where they could sign up for the new program and get help applying for weatherization.
KU’s new heating assistance program is for eligible customers who use electric heat. They will receive a fixed amount of $294 per year in seven monthly installments of $42 that are applied to the current bill. The credit will be applied to bills during peak heating and cooling months and cannot be used to reduce arrearages.
Community action agencies began outreach and enrollment for KU’s program in December. As of mid-January they have 764 households enrolled and expect to reach their goal of 1,300 households within two months. Some agencies sent letters to LIHEAP recipients informing them of the program and also are enrolling clients as they come in for crisis assistance. The first subsidies will be applied to participants’ bills in February.
A ten percent surcharge on both utilities’ residential electric or gas meters funds the programs, raising about $2.1 million annually for the next three years. LG&E’s program will provide an estimated $840,000 in assistance to 900 households each year. KU’s program is projected to raise $1.3 million annually for 1,300 households.
The PSC gave preliminary approval to the programs at the end of September and allowed the utilities to begin collecting the surcharge on October 1, 2004. In the final order, the PSC required one change in the LG&E program that allows customers to use the credit to reduce past-due amounts. LG&E wanted to allow a maximum of $1,000 in arrearage payments; the PSC reduced that amount to $700.
The PSC also expressed disappointment that both utilities declined to include shareholder contributions along with the charge on residential customers, but noted they have no authority to order a shareholder contribution.
Customers of both utilities with household incomes at or below 110 percent of federal poverty guidelines are eligible for the programs. LG&E customers must have a minimum monthly household income of $100 and household utility arrearages under $700 to participate.
Both utilities require participants to enroll in LIHEAP and apply for and accept any available weatherization assistance. LG&E and KU both have a weatherization program called WeCare and Project Warm is a program available to low-income residents of Louisville and Jefferson County.
The PSC orders, 2004-00303 (KU) and 2004-00304 (LG&E), and related case documents are posted on its website.
Return to Contents
Indiana Gas Assistance Pilots Get Underway
Pilot programs at Indiana’s gas utilities will help the state’s low-income households with their gas bills. The largest, a $5.7 million one-year pilot from Indiana’s largest gas utility, NIPSCO, was approved in mid-December by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and was to begin immediately.
The other pilot, called the Universal Service Program (USP), is the result of an agreement reached earlier this year among the two other major gas utilities (Citizens Gas and Vectren), state agencies and various groups.
Under NIPSCO’s Winter Warmth program qualifying customers can receive up to $400 in annual energy assistance that can be applied to the payment of delinquent utility bills and natural gas deposits. Additionally, NIPSCO will limit natural gas deposit payments for LIHEAP-eligible customers to $150 and to $300 for non-LIHEAP eligible customers determined to have a financial hardship.
The program will be funded by $700,000 in overall energy assistance from NIPSCO and through a small monthly charge included in residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers' bills.
The two-year USP began January 1 with eligible customers receiving monthly bill reductions based upon the customer’s income level and utility provider. For example, a family of four with an annual income of $23,000 would see a total monthly bill reduction of approximately 40 percent from Citizens Gas and 50 percent from Vectren.
The pilot USP also provides additional funding to both utilities’ weatherization programs, which target qualifying low-income households with high energy use.
Funding for the Citizens Gas USP will come from several Citizens Gas support programs, including its Warm Heart Warm Home assistance fund, and, if needed, its annual Customer Benefit Distribution, which is income from Citizens’ unregulated subsidiaries.
Vectren’s USP funding will include the utility’s "Share the Warmth" assistance funds through which Vectren annually donates $500,000 in heating assistance and matches "Share the Warmth" contributions up to $200,000. If additional money is necessary, Vectren will assess a small monthly per-unit charge to all of its Indiana customers.
Return to Contents
LASER in Massachusetts Moves Clients Towards Self-sufficiency
Massachusetts’s LASER (Leveraging Assets for Self-sufficiency through Energy Resources) program uses a holistic approach to moving households towards self-sufficiency. This three-year Residential Energy Assistance Challenge (REACH) program was awarded $900,000 in 2002 and plans to enroll 900 households over the three-year period.
LASER’s main objective is “to help families not now part of the system of energy-related services to achieve energy independence and become economically self-sustaining.”
The LASER program consists of four inter-linked components: (1) one-stop shopping to coordinate intake, referral and follow-up services for self-sufficiency interventions; (2) working with utilities to provide customers with arrearage forgiveness in exchange for enrolling in comprehensive financial literacy training; (3) accessing a broad range of housing and social service resources to prevent crisis, reduce debt, manage budgets, and enable long-term assets such as home or business ownership and education; and (4) assisting clients in moving toward self-sufficiency through financial literacy and asset-development programs
The program also addresses problems within the system that can impede the efforts of service providers to assist families in moving towards self-sufficiency. The following elements are considered essential to the program’s goals: new outreach using community networks that include appropriate cultural and linguistic messages; improved links among social service providers and programs in order to reduce red tape, logistical barriers and duplication of effort; and strategies to develop ongoing funding for unified self-sufficiency programs.
Two community action agencies, Action, Inc. in Gloucester and ABCD in Boston, enrolled 75 clients in the LASER project during the first year. During LIHEAP intake, a caseworker assesses the client’s household situation. A family with multiple stresses, in addition to the need for energy assistance, may be a good candidate for LASER.
After a family is enrolled in LASER, a caseworker fills out a form with the client that details the current household situation. A vulnerability rating system classifies the household’s situation as crisis, vulnerable, stable, capable or thriving in several categories including income, utility payments, energy consumption, housing, transportation, other assets, debt, employment, education, health, food and nutrition. This vulnerability scale is similar to scales used by other programs such as Mississippi’s ROMA Family Development program (see LIHEAP networker #45.)
The caseworker then negotiates a set of short-, mid- and long-range goals with the client, and services are provided to help him/her attain set goals. Services may include: healthcare, housing advocacy, child care, job training, free checking accounts, lowering credit card debt, help filing taxes, food, clothing, and utility shut-off protection.
The caseworker interviews the client again at 6 months, 12 months and 18 months after enrollment to evaluate the client’s progress towards goals. The same vulnerability scale is used at each interview.
ABCD has about 170 clients enrolled in the program so far. Its outreach includes public service announcements, press conferences, energy fairs, cable and local news and a radio call-in show.
According to Kathy Tobin, energy programs manager at ABCD, the LASER project is not a one-way street. A household is provided with energy bill assistance, weatherization, utility discounts, energy efficiency services or heating system repair; in return, she explained, the client must work towards a goal such as taking a class to improve job skills.
“A lot we do is similar to fuel assistance, but we didn’t have the time and focus to sit down with a client to improve their household situation. With this program we have the luxury to work with a client, to work towards a more positive way of doing things,” said Tobin.
Rita Carvalho, assistant energy director, at Action, Inc., echoed Tobin. “The extra time spent with a client improves services and often helps their economic situation," she explained. "If they receive additional time and assistance from staff, the results will most often be positive and will help them with energy payments in the future.”
Action Inc. has 250 clients enrolled in LASER. Services that benefit their clients include job training, Food Stamps, health care and budget counseling.
Most of the clients stay with the program and are surprised at the services and opportunities that are available, Carvalho said. The services they received after a job loss or medical leave helped them through a rough time and enabled them to return to work without accruing unmanageable arrearages. Other clients had help finding affordable housing or were able to find jobs after receiving job training and education.
Arrearage forgiveness, averaging $220 for clients on a payment plan, was negotiated with participating utilities by a team of advocates from LASER, REACH and LEAN, a low-income energy affordability network.
An annual evaluation by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute in July 2004 concluded that the program’s enrollment goal of 900 households was on track. As of May 31, 2004, the program had expanded to four new agencies. The long-term goal is to continue the program and extend it to all 23 Massachusetts LIHEAP agencies.
The evaluator enters and reviews data sent by the six agencies. Baseline data, utility consumption and payment data are entered into files in order to identify changes in client behavior related to both energy consumption and bill payment behavior. When enough follow-up data is processed, data will be analyzed to determine if the LASER project has had an effect on client’s lives in energy-related self-sufficiency, income, arrearage reduction, job retention, etc.
For more information contact Rita Carvalho, Action Inc, 978-283-2131, or Kathy Tobin, ABCD, 617-357-6000.
Return to Contents
Web-Based Applications Offer Screening,
More Access in Pennsylvania and West Virginia
As Internet and email usage have become increasingly common, at least 19 states provide downloadable LIHEAP applications on their program web sites. Some states have gone further and refined their online services to offer clients access to multiple programs and to streamline the application process. Examples from Pennsylvania and West Virginia follow:
Pennsylvania has online screening and application for a variety of programs. The 2003-04 heating season was the first year LIHEAP was available through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Access to Social Services (COMPASS) online application. Almost 7,000 LIHEAP online applications were received during the first year, and of these, 56 percent included applications for other benefits. So far this year, close to 5,000 online LIHEAP applications have been received. State officials are pleased with the number of applications and expect that number to increase every year as community action agencies inform clients of the website.
COMPASS is a website that provides screening, application and renewal of a broad range of social programs including LIHEAP, healthcare, Food Stamps and cash assistance. Applicants can provide basic information to see what social services for which they may be eligible, or they can select a service and complete an online application.
COMPASS came online several years ago with a joint application for Medicaid and children’s health insurance (CHIP). Other services have been added since with the LIHEAP application becoming available in October 2003.
Using COMPASS to apply for LIHEAP is a two-step process. First, a prospective client completes a questionnaire (e-form) online, and then prints out a signature page to mail or fax to the agency. After an agency receives and reviews the application, it sends a letter to the applicant if further documentation is needed. After receiving all necessary information, a letter is sent from the agency to inform the applicant if they are eligible for LIHEAP and, if eligible, the type and amount of their benefit.
The address for the COMPASS website is: www.compass.state.pa.us.
The state’s online screening and application website is called InROADS (Information Network for Resident Online Access and Delivery of Services.) The anonymous self-screening process evaluates household members to determine which benefits they may be eligible for. The information is confidential and if a person chooses not to apply at that time, the information is erased, or if choosing to apply, the information transfers to an application.
The online application allows a person to apply for multiple benefits offered by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) including healthcare, public transportation, Food Stamps and school clothing allowance and energy assistance on a seasonal basis.
InROADS came online in May 2003 with children’s and pregnant women Medicaid and CHIP applications. Since then, other services have been added with LIHEAP coming online at the start of West Virginia’s heating program in December 2004. West Virginia’s LIHEAP was open for five days; 228 applications were submitted online.
InROADS works in conjunction with the statewide database system called RAPIDS. When an InROADS application is received, select data is transferred to the RAPIDS database. An application is considered ‘pending’ until a signature page is received by fax or mail from the applicant. InROADS is hoping to have an electronic signature page in the future.
At the end of the InROADS application, the applicant is informed of the information (income verification, medical insurance, etc). that he/she must send to the local county office in order to establish eligibility for the program(s) for which he/she has applied. If the applicant is known to RAPIDS, the necessary documentation may already be available.
Once the necessary documentation is received, the application is processed and an eligibility letter is sent to the applicant. The online process is only for the regular LIHEAP benefit; clients seeking crisis assistance must apply in person at their local county DHHR office.
Outreach for the new application process was posted on West Virginia’s LIHEAP website and was included in press releases. The website address for InROADS is www.wvinroads.org.
Online applications are especially important to individuals who can’t get to an office during business hours or need someone to help them apply, according to Margaret Lovejoy, who added that feedback from InROADS applicants has been very positive. Both COMPASS and InROADS e-forms are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the COMPASS e-form is available in Spanish.
Contact Margaret Lovejoy at (304) 348-0840 for more information about InROADS and RAPIDS. Cindy Good can be contacted at (717) 772-7892 for information about COMPASS.
Return to Contents
Low-Income Energy Resources
Low-income Public Benefits Evaluation: A Multi-state Study of Low-income Weatherization Programs’ Energy Education and Baseload Measures Final Report, PA Government Services, Inc., February 2004. Presents the results of a multi-state study of energy education and baseload measures offered by low-income programs in selected northern states (IN, IL, IA, MA, MI, MN, NH, NY, OH RI, PA). While it found consensus among respondents that energy education is important in maintaining a home’s heath, safety and comfort, less than half of the states required energy education as a component of weatherization and hard data about the cost-effectiveness of energy education are elusive. It presents a wealth of detail on energy education best practices and strategies for developing an effective energy education policy.
State Public Benefit Funds: Expanding Support for Low-Income Weatherization and Rehab. The Weatherization, Rehab and Asset Preservation (WRAP) Partnership, September 30, 2004. Describes how public benefit funds and weatherization programs can be integrated with housing rehab programs to improve these programs and to make low-income housing more affordable. It describes programs that combine weatherization and HUD funds and provides tables listing federal WAP funding and weatherization funding from state public benefit funds and utility-sponsored funds.
State Fiscal Year 2003 Evaluation of the NRS 702 Energy Assistance Program & Weatherization Assistance Program, H. Gil Peach & Associates, LLC, November 2004. The first annual evaluation of Nevada’s state-funded energy assistance and weatherization program, one of the nation’s newest programs that use public benefits funds to help address low-income energy needs. Describes the objectives of each program, analyzes the effectiveness and efficiency of each in meeting its objectives, and recommends changes. Despite startup problems with computers and outreach, resulting in first year funds being under spent, the evaluation says the program is well designed and one of the best in the country because it covers both electricity and gas costs, it uses the Nevada median household energy burden, which is calibrated yearly, in determining benefits, and it is year-round, taking into account cooling as well as heating bills.
Low-income Public Benefits Evaluation: Year 3 Low-income Program Evaluation, PA Government Services, Inc., October 2004. Evaluates the third year of Wisconsin’s state- and federally-funded programs: Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP), Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and Targeted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® (Targeted HPWES). Among other things, it found WHEAP participants had reduced energy burdens; WHEAP and WAP participants reported being highly satisfied with the programs; the programs had some access in moving low-income households toward energy self-sufficiency; and they are delivering energy savings to participants. WAP reported savings of 11 percent for electricity and 15 percent for gas and Targeted HPWES had 11 percent electricity and 28 percent gas savings. Among recommendations for improvement: the state should evaluate strategies to help WHEAP improve customer bill payment, consider methods to increase the persistence of weatherization benefits, and explore how to increase WAP multi-family electric savings.
The Impact of Rising Energy Prices on Low-Income Consumers, National Regulatory Research Institute, October 2004. Presents a brief overview of poverty in the United States and sheds light on the problems faced by the working poor; also provides a brief overview of low-income assistance programs, including the status of LIHEAP funding, the results of the first national survey of LIHEAP recipients, as well as other federal and state initiatives. It ends with conclusions and performance measures that utility commissions might consider to help low-income consumers mitigate energy price increases and prevent utility disconnections.
Rising Energy Prices Strain Household Budgets And The Economy, For Most Americans, Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America , September 2004. This 8-page analysis shows that low- and middle-income consumers are spending a greater share of their household income on their energy needs than wealthier consumers. It estimates household expenditures on both gasoline and home heating fuels.
Return to Contents