Shaheen, CAP officials decry lack of LIHEAP fuel, winterization funds
On Monday, as daytime temperatures peaked in the 40s and rain descended upon the Seacoast, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, met with a few residents in need after speaking to representatives from regional Community Action Programs (CAP) and officials from the state Office of Energy Planning about the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the lack of funding for winterization.
OEP Director Meredith Hatfield said state and federal funding remains crucial “so people can stay warm this winter.”
Shaheen hopes the federal budget — the first one passed in several years — will provide more certainty and more resources.
Lovell said it’s challenging because the average amount of assistance — $730 — will only pay for 200 gallons of fuel, which is about a quarter of a normal tank needed to keep a home heated.
Lovell said she hopes to return to the point where the program could help clean furnaces — making them safer and more efficient — and provide enough fuel to keep tanks full enough to prepare for next winter.
Brandi Bobusia, outreach service manager for Strafford County CAP, said the Dover office usually helps about 23 people a day. As of Monday, she said, they had 35 scheduled appointments.
Peter Higbee, chief operations officer for Tri-County CAP Administration, said there is a definite increase in emergency requests — which takes time away from normal appointment and operations — throughout Carroll, Coos and Grafton counties and across the state.
Many were concerned about the reduction in funding for winterization projects across the state.
Last year, New Hampshire received $530,000, which is 0.78 percent of the $68 million federal allocation for the program. The state will receive $448,000 in 2014, according to Ryan Clouthier, energy director for Southern New Hampshire Services Inc.
Judy Scothorne, director of CAP for Belknap and Merrimack Counties Inc., said the lack of funding for winterizing homes is frustrating since both heat and money escapes. She added this is especially true in mobile homes.
John Manning, chief financial officer for Southwestern Community Services, said winterization helps people save enough money to give people breathing room and even alleviate the need for assistance.
Shaheen said she is working to get a winterization bill heard by fellow legislators.