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TBT — Energy Assistance: Crisis Response vs. Prevention

Temperatures continue to drop as we head further into fall, which can only mean one thing: winter really IS coming. Experts are predicting a bitterly cold winter for the Midwest this year, and Michigan needs to be prepared to address energy assistance needs across our state.

The Best Approach for Low-Income Michiganders

When it comes to assisting low-income Michiganders, especially during our brutally cold winters, most government agencies and charitable organizations take one of two approaches. Both are vital to helping Michiganders in need, but which is the more effective solution in the long term?

While there will always be a need for emergency assistance, AMP believes that by helping households better plan for and manage their energy needs via self-sufficiency programs, we can empower Michiganders to make smarter energy decisions, and work to end the vicious “shut-off cycle” that ensnares many low-income families.

Here’s a quick reminder of how the shut-off cycle works:

Crisis assistance is like addressing the symptoms of an illness, whereas self-sufficiency planning and prevention is like treating the disease as a whole. The shut-off cycle is debilitating for low-income families. AMP believes that by working to empower Michiganders with the tools they need, they can break this cycle.

Making the Most of Available Funding

Both crisis assistance and self-sufficiency programs have one thing in common: they rely on federal funding from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which in turn helps fund the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP).

Given LIHEAP’s uncertain future, Michigan should be using every federal energy assistance dollar as wisely and carefully as possible. That means focusing on solutions that provide a path to self-sufficiency. Programs that help Michiganders take control of their own energy use and manage their bills more effectively and efficiently.

Fortunately, programs like DTE Energy’s Low-Income Self-Sufficiency Program (LSP), Consumers Affordable Resource for Energy (CARE), and Helping Neighbors are helping low-income Michigan households avoid crisis situations by addressing the root cause of late or missing payments.

Do you have any questions about the two sides of the energy assistance equation? Ask us by emailing info@allianceformichiganpower.com!