White House offering more aid for winter heat, utility bills

Nov 18, 2021, 3:26 AM | Updated: Nov 19, 2021, 12:46 am

The Biden administration is taking steps to 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 typically has funding of $3 billion to $4 billion annually. Aid for renters can also cover utility costs, while the money provided to state, local and tribal governments can help families that face high heating bills and are ineligible for other programs.

“It’s another example of where the American Rescue Plan included extra precautions to ensure we would be prepared,” said Gene Sperling, who is overseeing coronavirus relief for the White House. “These new programs and funding were designed to ensure that if the weather was colder or the prices were higher, we would have the highest resources ever to help as many hard-pressed families as possible.”

The White House held a call Thursday with representatives from governors’ offices to discuss ways to distribute the funds and coordinate across programs. Speakers on the call will include Sperling, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and the governors of Connecticut, Maine, Michigan and Minnesota.

The aid helps to create a cushion that limits the shock of higher energy costs ahead of winter. Republican lawmakers have said the relief package, which became law in March, caused higher levels of inflation, with prices in October 6.2% higher than a year ago. The GOP argument is that the Biden relief package sent too much money into the economy, sending prices up and hurting middle-class and lower-income families.

“The Democrats’ inflation is functioning like an ultra-punitive tax on the American families who can least afford it,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Wednesday.

But in this instance, the spending from the aid package is already helping to insulate millions of households from higher utility bills and reducing strains on household budgets. Estimates by the Urban Institute based off a Census Bureau survey indicate that a third of families used the monthly payments from the expanded child tax credit to pay their utility bills between July and October 2021.

Electricity and natural gas prices are roughly 11% higher than a year ago, according to the Labor Department’s consumer price index. Heating oil prices have more than doubled over the past year, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The administration is also calling on utilities and energy companies to use the available government resources to protect their most vulnerable customers. DTE Energy, Eversource, National Grid, NorthWestern Energy, Green Mountain Power, Portland General Electric, Vermont Gas, and the delivered fuel trade association NEFI have agreed to identify and notify eligible recipients and guarantee no shutoffs for customers seeking assistance.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A person walks by a SoftBank shop on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, in Tokyo. Japanese technology company So...
Associated Press

Japan tech giant SoftBank posts $23 billion quarterly loss

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese technology company SoftBank Group posted a $23.4 billion loss in the April-June quarter as the value of its investments sank amid global worries about inflation and interest rates. SoftBank Group Corp.’s loss of 3.16 trillion yen was a reversal from its 762 billion yen profit in the same quarter a year […]
3 hours ago
Exterior damage from a fire is seen at the Mountain B pub in the Sattahip district of Chonburi prov...
Associated Press

Thai pub owner charged in connection with deadly blaze

BANGKOK (AP) — The owner of a music pub in eastern Thailand where a fire last week killed 15 people and injured more than three dozen others was released on bail when he was brought to court Monday to hear criminal charges against him. Pongsiri Panprasong, owner of the Mountain B pub in Sattahip district […]
3 hours ago
Associated Press

Productivity, consumer prices, Cardinal Health earns

A look at some of the key business events and economic indicators upcoming this week: ECONOMIC BELLWETHER Economists project that U.S. worker productivity fell in the April-June period for the second consecutive quarter. The Labor Department is expected to report Tuesday that nonfarm labor productivity fell in the second quarter at an annual rate of […]
3 hours ago
Liudmila Samsonova, of Russia, poses with the trophy after she won the final at the Citi Open tenni...
Associated Press

Russian tennis players collect 3 titles at US Open tuneups

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was quite a week for Russia’s professional tennis players — four tournaments, three titles. One of them, Liudmila Samsonova, thinks it might not be merely a coincidence that this recent run of success for her, Daria Kasatkina and Daniil Medvedev comes shortly after they were banned from competing at Wimbledon because […]
1 day ago
Lyubov Mahlii, 76, pulls a crate of water bottles up the stairs to her fifth floor apartment after ...
Associated Press

As summer wanes, water crisis looms for east Ukrainian city

SLOVIANSK, Ukraine (AP) — The echo of artillery shells thundering in the distance mingles with the din of people gathered around Sloviansk’s public water pumps, piercing the uneasy quiet that smothers the nearly deserted streets of this eastern Ukrainian city. The members of Sloviansk’s dwindling population only emerge — a few minutes at a time […]
1 day ago
Palestinians celebrate the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Islamic Jihad Movement in Gaza C...
Associated Press

Fragile cease-fire between Israel, Gaza militants holding

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A fragile cease-fire deal to end nearly three days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza held into Monday morning — a sign the latest round of violence may have abated. The flare-up was the worst fighting between Israel and Gaza militant groups since Israel and Gaza’s […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
White House offering more aid for winter heat, utility bills