With chillier temperatures moving in and snow already on the ground in some spots, the federal government is releasing $3.03 billion in LIHEAP funding to help Americans keep warm.
In a statement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said recipients received 90 percent of the funding available under the Continuing Resolution (CR) which is keeping the federal government funded through Dec. 8.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was among the lawmakers pleased to see the money released.
"Access to affordable home energy during the cold winter months is a matter of health and safety for many low-income households," said Collins. She called LIHEAP "an indispensable lifeline" that keeps recipients from "having to make the impossible choice between paying for heat and paying for food or medicine."
The grants announced Oct. 20 range from $4.1 million for Hawaii up to $327.4 million for New York. Funding also goes to U.S. territories as well as Indian tribes and tribal organizations.
The CR, signed by President Trump Sept. 8, keeps funding at fiscal 2017 levels. In the case of LIHEAP—the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program—that's about $3.4 billion.
Trump has proposed eliminating LIHEAP in the FY 2018 federal budget. In May, NRECA was one of nearly 1,300 organizations that signed a letter from the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition asking House and Senate lawmakers to support an increase in fiscal 2018 LIHEAP funding.
"Between FY2009 and FY2016, LIHEAP's appropriation was cut by more than one‐third," the letter noted.
An NRECA member resolution urges the association to work with Congress to continue authorization for LIHEAP and recommends that it be fully funded.