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Energy Assistance Vital as Winter Approaches

Low-income families often struggle to keep up with energy costs, especially here in Michigan. While our economy is slowly recovering, the need for energy assistance still exceeds the funding available.  
Autumn officially begins September 22, which means temperatures will be dropping soon. This past winter’s “polar vortex” showed just how harsh Michigan’s climate can be, and The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting colder-than-usual temperatures again this year.  For most of us, that will be a nuisance, but for far too many Michiganders, it will be dangerous—perhaps even deadly.

Low-income families can face tough choices between keeping the heat on, covering housing costs, or buying essentials like food and medicine.These households often include children or elderly individuals, both of whom are particularly vulnerable to extreme temperatures.  

LIHEAP: Helping Our Fellow Michiganders in Need Access Critical Assistance 

The federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) accounts for the majority of energy assistance funds available in Michigan; it serves as the primary source of funding for the Michigan Energy Assistance Program and the Low-income Energy Assistance Fund.

In Michigan, applications for energy assistance are accepted beginning November 1. Energy assistance helps low-income households in three ways:

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) recently approved $89.5 million in Michigan Energy Assistance Program grants statewide. For more information, call 2-1-1 or visit www.mi211.com.

Working Together to Protect Access and Reliability

Unfortunately, LIHEAP has been an easy target for budget cuts over the past several years—threatening access to reliable energy for many low-income families here in Michigan and nationwide. Because access, fairness, and reliability are among AMP’s core principles, we believe LIHEAP must receive the necessary funding to make the program effective for more Michiganders.

Funding for LIHEAP has dropped to a little over $3 billion—far short of the $4.5 billion the program was allocated as recently as 2011. These drastic funding cuts have come despite the fact that LIHEAP is actually quite cost-effective compared with other government programs.
 
LIHEAP needs effective advocates to help convince Congress to restore funding to previous levels.  Fortunately, our friends at the Coalition to Keep Michigan Warm help concerned citizens reach out to their legislators and raise public awareness.

Other Sources of Energy Assistance

Besides federal energy assistance funds, there are numerous groups in Michigan
helping to provide energy assistance. For example, the Salvation
Army
, The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW),
and the United Way of Michigan are just a
few of the organizations that help reach families not assisted by government
programs; they are all worthy of your generous donations, especially as colder
temperatures approach.

We believe
that every Michigan family and business deserves reliable, fairly priced
energy, and our state’s energy policies play a key role in helping keep energy
affordable and reliable for everyone.  Learn more.