Senators request aid to help pay for electric home heating for those without gas


Washington (October 25, 2018) – Massachusetts Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren today asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy to include funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Emergency Contingency Fund in the next appropriations bill. The Secretary of Health and Human Services can distribute these emergency funds at his discretion in order to meet any additional home energy assistance needs that develop after an emergency.


Following the Merrimack Valley natural gas explosions, thousands of residents in Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence, Massachusetts have no gas service and many have turned to more expensive electric heating options. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, an average consumer in the Northeast will pay nearly double for electric heating over the upcoming winter, compared to natural gas heating. As a result, this disaster could result in state home heating assistance agencies going through their funding at a more rapid pace, leaving homes without assistance by the end of the winter.


“Residents of Lawrence, North Andover, and Andover are struggling to recover from this long-term disruption to their lives and their businesses, and their heightened need for heating support is exactly what this emergency fund was intended to address,” write the Senators. “Without it, the unexpectedly higher costs of these residents’ home heating needs may mean that the state will lack the necessary funds to address other low-income residents’ heating needs by the end of the winter.”


A copy of the Senators’ letter can be found HERE.


The LIHEAP program serves approximately 200,000 of Massachusetts’s neediest and most vulnerable families. Nationwide, roughly 33 percent of households receiving LIHEAP assistance had at least one member 60 years of age or older, 38 percent of households had at least one member with a disability, and 19 percent of households included at least one child five years of age or younger.