Fuel Funds Launch Winter Assistance Programs
As winter weather arrives and the amount of LIHEAP funds is rapidly diminishing, fuel funds across the country are announcing efforts to help low-income households meet their energy needs. A few recent examples include:
- In its service areas throughout the Pacific Northwest, Avista recently announced the dispersal of $226,000 to its Project Share, in addition to $100,000 to its CARES program. The funding originates from contributions by Avista employees, ratepayers and community members. Last year, Project Share provided emergency energy assistance to 2,100 households. CARES is a partnership of 19 community-service organizations in Washington that help eligible Avista customers who have exhausted all other energy-assistance resources.
- The American Red Cross chapter serving two Alabama counties announced last week it was accepting applications for the Project SHARE fuel fund. The program provides energy assistance for households meeting income-eligibility or age and disability requirements. It's funded largely through voluntary pledges by customers of Alabama Power Company, Alabama Gas Corporation, and 24 electric cooperatives and municipalities. Last year, the program raised approximately $75,000 in the two counties and aided 600 families. Statewide Project Share spends at least $1 million annually and helps over 16,000 households in 59 Alabama counties.
- Supporters of the Winter Assistance Fund for Indiana's Marion County kicked off their annual fundraising drive last week by accepting $265,000 from local donors. The fund helps people whose income exceeds guidelines for public assistance programs but who still have difficulty paying their winter heating bills. Citizens Energy Group and Indianapolis Power and Light raise contributions for the fund from their customers. They combined to give $150,000 to the fund at the kickoff ceremony, while private charitable trusts and foundations contributed the remaining $115,000. With these initial contributions, the fund is within $85,000 of its total fundraising goal for the year. Last year, the fund helped over 2,300 people with their heating bills.
- The Massachusetts Salvation Army announced last week it is taking applications for the statewide Good Neighbor Energy Fund. For those meeting the income-eligibility requirements, the fund provides a $350 stipend to households to help pay winter energy bills. The fund is a cooperative effort between the Salvation Army and utility companies in the state. Fund supporters hope to raise $650,000 this year and help more than 2,000 households. Last year, the Fund helped over 1,800 households pay their energy bills during the winter.