AGA Disappointed in LIHEAP Funding Budget Request

The American Gas Association (AGA) is disappointed that in his FY2017 Budget released in February, President Obama requested a cut to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

LIHEAP is a federally-funded program to help the most vulnerable utility customers pay their energy bills, enabling them to keep their homes warm, cook their food and access hot water. The request was $3 billion. It was funded at $3.39 billion in FY2016 and has declined steadily since FY 2010 when the program received $5.1 billion.

“Energy is a basic human need, and natural gas utilities are dedicated to helping all customers stay connected,” said George Lowe, Vice President of Federal Affairs for the American Gas Association. “Congress faces difficult fiscal choices, but while Americans struggle to meet their basic needs, natural gas utilities will continue to call for reasonable funding for LIHEAP.”

  • Current federal funding is only sufficient to serve about 20 percent of all eligible households.
  • In FY 2015, 72 percent of the 6.8 million households receiving LIHEAP assistance had at least one member who was either elderly, disabled, or had a child under the age of five..
  • According to a 2011 study by the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, fully 20 percent of LIHEAP households (1.78 million) contain veterans.
  • Natural gas and electric utility ratepayers provided more than $3 billion in rate assistance to low income customers in FY 2013. Assistance came in the form of hardship funds, discounted rates and arrearage forgiveness.
  • Natural gas and electric utilities also spent almost $777 million on home weatherization, conservation, and efficiency assistance to low income customers in FY 2013. Through work with non-profits, community action, and government agencies, these conservation programs deliver weatherization and equipment repair or replacement services—customers.
  • often at little or no cost—to
  • Comparatively, energy utility funded programs exceeded Federal dollars by $565 million in 2013.
  • LIHEAP is a block grant program under which the federal government gives states annual grants to operate home energy assistance programs for low-income households. Every year, Congress must appropriate funds for LIHEAP.