Federal Funding for Low-Income Heating Assistance Could Decrease in 2012

by Erica Peterson on December 6, 2011

Metro Government is cautioning Louisville’s low income residents that federal funding for energy assistance programs may be cut next year.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program—or, LIHEAP—is a federally-funded program that helps low-income households pay their heating bills. The program’s budget has been increased for the past two years because of the economic recession, but Debbie Belt in Louisville’s Department of Community Services and Revitalization says they’re preparing for the worst this year.

“What’s happened in previous years, there is more money that is allocated,” she said. “So we’re hoping it won’t be that drastic but we have heard that even if more money is allocated, it probably won’t be at the same level we’ve received the last couple of years.”

At this point, without additional funding, Kentucky’s share of the money could be cut by as much as 84 percent in January.

Belt says that’s the worst case scenario, but families that rely on the assistance should begin taking other energy-saving measures to help ease their heating costs this winter.

“Any planning that can be done, including weatherizing your home, there’s all kinds of resources to learn how to be more energy efficient,” she said. “The less money we spend on utilities, that’s savings right there.”

Louisville Gas and Electric also offers programs for low-income customers.

The LIHEAP program will continue to operate at its current levels until December 16. So far this year, more than 7000 area households have participated in the program.

Project Warm will offer workshops this month to teach residents how to weatherize their homes.

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