Gillibrand urges federal agency to deal with rising heating costs | News
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined her colleagues in a bicameral letter urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to address the current energy crisis and ensure that families who depend on the program Low Income Home Energy Aid (LIHEAP) have the necessary resources. to stay safe all winter.
The cost of home heating is expected to rise 30% nationwide this winter for nearly half of U.S. households that rely primarily on natural gas, a level not seen since 2014, Gillibrand said.
In New York State alone, there are already over 1.2 million homes that collectively owe an estimated $ 1.7 billion in late payments of energy bills. Gillibrand said LIHEAP is an essential home heating assistance program that is vital for New York City’s most vulnerable seniors and families who depend on this money to offset the high cost of energy bills. However, she said, the current energy crisis means this vital program could lose much of its proper purchasing power due to volatile heating costs.
“The ongoing economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has strained global energy markets, still grappling with increasing demand, supply shortages and supply chain issues.” , said Gillibrand. “For low-income families, these price increases are not sustainable and could force them to choose between heating their homes and paying for essentials like rent, food and medicine.”
The senator said the average cost of home heating is unaffordable for millions of low-income households, costing more than $ 900 a year nationwide. With prices for fuel oil, natural gas and other fuels soaring worldwide, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) is forecasting even higher prices for home heating this winter.
Gillibrand said the EIA’s Winter Fuels Outlook reports that households nationwide could see their heating bills increase by 54% from last winter. The EIA also predicts that customers in the Northeast who use natural gas will see their bills increase to $ 865, from $ 731 last year.
Gillibrand said New Yorkers can spend more than $ 3,000 a year on energy bills alone – for low-income New Yorkers, that can represent more than 10% of their income on energy. Strong and early funding for LIHEAP is a crucial lifeline that will help meet the demand for rising utility costs and help financially struggling households pay their energy bills and stay safe throughout the day. long winter, said the senator.
In October, the start of the heating season for many states, Gillibrand urged HHS to distribute LIHEAP funding quickly and at the highest level possible. When millions of workers were laid off at the start of the pandemic, Gillibrand said she had fought alongside her colleagues to provide $ 900 million in LIHEAP funding under the CARES Act and $ 4.5 billion additional dollars in additional funding to the program as part of the US bailout. .