December 8, 2022

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More assistance is being offered by the White House for winter heating and energy bills

Image Courtesy: The Associated Press

The assistance contributes to the creation of a cushion that reduces the impact of rising energy expenses in the run-up to winter.

The Biden administration is taking steps to help distribute several billion dollars in winter heating and electricity bill assistance, an extraordinary figure partly funded by the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan.

The package included $4.5 billion in additional financing for the government’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which generally receives $3 billion to $4 billion in funding each year. Renter assistance can also cover utility costs, while funds offered to state, local, and tribal governments can assist families with high heating bills who are not eligible for other assistance.

“It’s another example of how the American Rescue Plan took extra efforts to assure we’d be ready,” said Gene Sperling, the White House’s coronavirus coordinator. “These new programmes and funds were created to ensure that if the weather turned colder or prices rose, we’d have the most resources ever to assist as many hard-pressed families as possible.”

The White House held a conference call with governors’ offices on Thursday to discuss how to disperse the monies and coordinate across programmes. Sperling, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, and the governors of Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, and Minnesota will also speak on the call.

The assistance contributes to the creation of a cushion that reduces the impact of rising energy expenses in the run-up to winter. Republican MPs have claimed that the March relief package resulted in increased inflation, with prices in October 6.2 percent higher than a year before. The GOP claims that the Biden stimulus package injected too much money into the economy, causing prices to rise and harming middle- and lower-income families.

“The Democrats’ inflation is acting like an ultra-punitive tax on the American folks who can least afford it,” Kentucky Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday.

However, in this case, the aid package’s expenditure is already helping to protect millions of homes from rising power prices and easing household budget stresses. According to the Urban Institute, a third of households used the monthly payments from the enhanced child tax credit to pay their power bills between July and October 2021, based on a Census Bureau study.

According to the Labor Department’s consumer price index, electricity and natural gas costs are nearly 11% higher than a year earlier. According to the Energy Information Administration, heating oil costs have more than doubled in the last year.

The administration is also urging utilities and energy corporations to safeguard their most vulnerable clients by utilising government resources. DTE Energy, Eversource, National Grid, NorthWestern Energy, Green Mountain Power, Portland General Electric, Vermont Gas, and the delivered fuel trade association NEFI have pledged to identify and notify qualified recipients, as well as guarantee that customers seeking assistance will not be switched off.

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