Michigan is facing the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in low-income heating bill assistance this coming winter.
There are two primary buckets of funding that help people with their heating bills. One is a state funding source referred to as LIEEF and the other is a federal funding source called LIHEAP.
The state assistance – LIEEF or Low-Income Energy Efficiency Fund – is paid into by Michigan utilities (which means the ratepayers) and run through the Michigan Public Services Commission. Since 2002, over $700 million have been collected and distributed and over 1 million families helped with shut-off assistance or heating assistance.
The federal assistance – LIHEAP or Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program – is run through the Department of Health and Human Services and distributed to the state. This program has been cut by the federal government to the tune of $1.2 billion resulting in $120 million that will not be available this year to Michigan residents in need. The non-partisan LIHEAP is supported by Governor Snyder and both Senators Levin and Stabenow. To understand the impact, 90,000 Michiganians have been helped by this program.
The best help for low income Michiganians would be to lower their bills. Another aspect of the state effort was to fund programs in Michigan that helped people with energy efficiency improvements on their homes to lower their energy bills long term.
Want to help? Here are two ideas:
- Visit the Coalition to Keep Michigan Warm and write a letter to your Congressional Representatives about the importance of funding LIHEAP.
- And write your state representative and senator to support legislation to put LIEEF in state law and continue the efforts. Rep. Lipton recently introduced HB 5008 to this end and Rep. Horn who is Chair of the House Energy Committee has discussed putting the topic on the committee’s agenda.