The Biden administration called on states, localities and tribes to plan early and coordinate across programs to effectively use historic American Rescue Plan resources to address home energy costs this winter. The White House also called on utility companies that receive public dollars to prevent devastating utility shut-offs this winter and help expedite the delivery of unprecedented federal aid.
The White House sent invitations for a call with representatives from governors’ offices to discuss ways to distribute the funds and coordinate across programs. Speakers on the call included White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator Gene Sperling, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and governors of Connecticut, Maine, Michigan and Minnesota.
In a statement released by the White House, the Administration is providing technical assistance to LIHEAP grantees to speed up state and local planning and program implementation for winter. The administration will help distribute several billion dollars in aid for winter heating and utility bills, an unprecedented sum that comes largely from its $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The package provided an additional $4.5 billion for the government’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which is typically funded at $3 billion to $4 billion annually.
What follows are a couple of statements from Governors Mills and Lamont during the call with the White House:
“Maine is putting to good use the American Rescue Plan’s unprecedented resources to keep Maine people warm this winter,” said Governor Janet Mills. “We are leading new initiatives to make accessing LIHEAP easier than ever, forging partnerships with fuel providers to get fuel in tanks early and often, and making once-in-a-generation investments to cut energy costs for Maine families, reduce carbon emissions, and strengthen our clean energy workforce. I am grateful for the efforts of the Biden-Harris Administration that made this progress possible – and I look forward to our continued partnership on behalf of the people of Maine.”
“It can’t be overstated what a lifeline the American Rescue Plan Act has been to millions of people across this country. The pandemic knocked us down and ARPA is helping us get back on our feet. In CT, we’re using emergency rental assistance funds provided through ARPA to help struggling households with their past-due electric bills. This is a unique and innovative approach to assist households with arrearages dating back to April 2020. Working with the US Department of the Treasury – which has been a great partner in implementing, UniteCT, which is our Emergency Rental Assistance Program – we’ve allowed households in Qualified Census Tracts to self-certify they are income-eligible for the program. And working with our major utilities, we’ve established a data sharing agreement to identify renter customers with arrearages, who were not yet receiving any kind of rental or utility assistance. We are contacting them by email and robocall and connecting them with our assistance programs. So far, we’ve helped thousands of eligible individuals who otherwise would be at risk of utility shutoffs during the cold winter months to come.”