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Despite recent increases, federal heating assistance falls below what is needed
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A group of Conectiv Power Delivery officials joined the national effort Tuesday asking Congress to equitably fund the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) according to the growing needs of low-income families who struggle every winter to stay warm.
"This winter''s higher energy costs and low temperatures mean that low-income families need increased financial relief from the federal government to help them keep their homes warm," said Enid Wallace-Simms, Conectiv manager of customer and community relations.
Simms, along with several other Conectiv officials and local community activists, traveled to the nation''s capital on Tuesday as part of a coordinated effort among energy utilities, low-income advocates and fuel fund organizations to push for funding increases.
"The number of available LIHEAP dollars was $170 million less in 2004 than it was in 1984 - yet there were 10 million more eligible households in 2004," said Laurence M. Downes, chairman of the American Gas Association, which represents 195 local natural gas utilities.
Last month Congress agreed to increase the amount it gives to assist low-income families with their heating bills this winter heating season, which runs from October 1 through March 31, by $100 million. However, low-income advocates and energy providers say that increase falls short of what is needed.
"Last year Delaware received $4.9 million for LIHEAP, which helped approximately 13,200 income-eligible households. Based on the higher fuel costs, though, I''m quite sure many others were left out in the cold," Simms said.
The company assists its low-income customers with their power bills through the Conectiv Good Neighbor Energy Fund, which is run by the Salvation Army. Conectiv solicits donations to the fund and matches $1 for every $3 donated, up to $70,000. This winter heating season Conectiv has agreed to donate an additional $30,000, increasing its total contribution to up to $100,000.
Conectiv Power Delivery, a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: POM), provides safe, reliable and affordable regulated electric or natural gas delivery services to more than one million customers in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.