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 car is submerged in flood water in North Port, Fla., on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Adriana...
Associated Press

After Ian, river flooding menaces Florida inland towns

NORTH PORT, Fla. (AP) — As Hurricane Ian ravaged coastal towns in southwest Florida, residents in this quiet suburb thought they would be safe, having no beach and living outside areas under evacuation orders. But then the water kept flowing in. Since Ian’s passage, water levels have gone up significantly, turning roads into canals, reaching […]
22 hours ago
The flame of a gas burner helps inflate a hot air balloon as part of a re-enactment of the first Al...
Associated Press

Annual hot air balloon festival draws global audience to US

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Hundreds of hot air balloons are scheduled to lift off Saturday morning, marking the start of an annual fiesta that has drawn pilots and spectators from across the globe to New Mexico’s high desert for 50 years now. As one of the most photographed events in the world, the Albuquerque International […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: October 1, Las Vegas shooting kills 58

Today in History Today is Saturday, Oct. 1, the 274th day of 2022. There are 91 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Oct. 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire from a room at the Mandalay Bay casino hotel in Las Vegas on a crowd of 22,000 country music fans at a […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Tesla Motors, Inc. CEO Elon Musk speaks at the Paris Pantheon Sorbonne University as part of...
Associated Press

Tesla robot walks, waves, but doesn’t show off complex tasks

DETROIT (AP) — An early prototype of Tesla Inc.’s proposed Optimus humanoid robot slowly and awkwardly walked onto a stage, turned, and waved to a cheering crowd at the company’s artificial intelligence event Friday. But the basic tasks by the robot with exposed wires and electronics — as well as a later, next generation version […]
22 hours ago
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, right, Democratic challenger and state lawmaker Jamie Smith, center,...
Associated Press

Governor debate: Noem for abortion ban, Smith wants changes

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem indicated Friday during her reelection campaign’s lone debate with her Democratic challenger, state lawmaker Jamie Smith, that if reelected she will uphold the state’s abortion ban that provides no exceptions for rape or incest. The Republican governor explained her position simply as “pro-life,” while pledging […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Abortion-rights protesters attend a rally following the United States Supreme Court's decisi...
Associated Press

Abortion ruling intensifies fight over state supreme courts

Surrounded by states with abortion bans that took effect after Roe v. Wade fell, Illinois is one of the few places where the procedure remains legal in the Midwest. Abortion-rights supporters are worried that might not last. Their concern is shared in at least a half-dozen states, and this year it’s not just about state […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
White House offering more aid for winter heat, utility bills