HARRISBURG – State Rep. Camille “Bud” George, D-74 of Houtzdale, said that Pennsylvania will open the cash grant portion of its Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP – on Nov. 1.
“Roughly 600,000 Pennsylvania families turned to LIHEAP last winter for heating assistance and the program undoubtedly will be in demand with the onset of cold temperatures,” Rep. George said. “LIHEAP grants do not have to be repaid by renters or homeowners, and you don’t have to be on public assistance or have an unpaid heating bill to qualify.”
Cash grants to help families pay heating bills will range this season from $300 to $1,000. Supplemental $100 cash grants also will be issued to vulnerable households – those with at least one member 60 or older, 5 or younger, or disabled — who qualify for a cash grant.
An individual making up to $17,328 – and a family of four making up to $35,280 – could qualify. Last year’s income guidelines were $16,245 for an individual and $33,075 for a family of four.
Beginning Nov. 1, LIHEAP applications will be available at county assistance offices, utility offices and community service agencies. Applications also will be available online at www.compass.state.pa.us. The toll-free LIHEAP hotline is (1) 866 857-7095.
Phone numbers, regular and toll free where available, for area county assistance offices are:
? Clearfield County, 765-0684 and 1-800 862-8941
? Centre County, 861-1955 and 1-800 355-6024
? Jefferson County, 938-1329 and 1-800 242-8214
? Blair County, 946-7365 and 1-866 812-3341
? Cambria County, 533-2253 and 1-877 315-0389
? Elk County, 772-5215 or 776-1101 and 1-800 847-0257
LIHEAP applicants will need to provide the names, birth dates, proof of income and Social Security numbers for household members, as well as a copy of a recent heating bill.
LIHEAP crisis grants — for heating emergences such as utility shutoffs, fuel shortages and equipment failures – will not open until Jan. 3, although applications for crisis exceptions will be accepted Nov. 1. The minimum crisis grant is $25 and the maximum grant will be $400.
George said he welcomed the increased grant amounts and eased income restrictions on LIHEAP but warned that a number of factors could make this heating season troublesome.
“Double-digit increases in electric-generation charges are looming for Penelec customers beginning January 1,” George said. “Offers from competing suppliers should appear soon, although no one will pay less than what they are paying now.”
Information about electric-generation prices is available through the office of the state Office of Consumer Advocate. The toll-free telephone number is (1) 800 684-6560. The e-mail is email@example.com, and the Web site is www.oca.state.pa.
Electric-generation suppliers licensed to serve the Penelec territory will be available on the state Public Utility Commission website, www.puc.state.pa.us, or by calling the PUC toll free at 1-800 692-7380.
“Based on recent, short-term forecasts, the Northeast is projected to be about 5 percent colder than last winter,” George said. “Most fuel prices also are higher than last year’s depressed prices.”
The federal Energy Information Agency projects that the average Northeast household using heating oil is projected to spend 13 percent – or about $259 — more than last winter as a result of a 5-percent increase in consumption and regional prices 8 percent higher than last winter.