PENNSYLVANIA — This weekend, as we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving together with loved ones, temperatures are dropping across the commonwealth. Though Turkey Day itself looks to be sunny and relatively warm, frigid temperatures are predicted to sweep through Pennsylvania. Fortunately, the Biden-Harris Administration has called on states and localities to plan early and coordinate across programs to effectively use historic American Rescue Plan (ARP) resources to address home energy costs this winter.
Last week, 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 American Rescue Plan provides critical resources that states and localities can use to address home energy costs:
- More than doubling available Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding: The recent average annual funding for LIHEAP is $3-4 billion, which typically serves 5 million households. The American Rescue Plan provided an additional $4.5 billion available until September 2022.
- Delivering Emergency Rental Assistance—unavailable in previous winters—to help cover utility bills: First established last December—and provided an additional $21.5 billion in funding by the American Rescue Plan—Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) programs provide help with past-due utility bills or ongoing assistance with energy costs to help distressed renters avoid shut-offs and keep current on expenses. Even as most programs were just beginning to ramp up between January and June 2021, grantees made over 200,000 payments to support households with utility arrears and over 140,000 prospective utility payments.
- Providing state, local and tribal governments additional resources to help energy-burdened middle-class families, including through the $350 billion State & Local Fiscal Recovery Fund: States and localities have the flexibility to use Fiscal Recovery Funds to help deliver energy relief to families, including for middle-class households that may not be eligible for programs directed to the lowest income consumers.
Read more about the ARP funds protecting Americans from rising home heating costs here.