Contact: Mark Wolfe
Date: August 7, 2001
Congress is rapidly moving to increase the LIHEAP authorization level to $3.4 billion. On Wednesday, August 1, the House passed, H.R. 4, the Securing America’s Future Energy Act of 2001 (SAFE) bill, that increased the authorization level for LIHEAP to $3.4 billion. State-by-state numbers The bill also included a provision directing the General Accounting Office to conduct a study to determine:
- the extent to which Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) and other government energy subsidies paid to consumers discourage energy conservation and energy efficiency investments; and
- the extent to which the goals of conservation and assistance for low income households could be simultaneously achieved through cash income supplements that do not specifically target energy, thereby maintaining incentives for wise use of expensive forms of energy, or through other means.
The GAO study was requested by Rep. Cox from California who had earlier proposed to distribute all LIHEAP funds by poverty data. NEADA will work with Committee staff in the Senate to modify the language on the GAO study. It certainly makes little sense to include a provision increasing the authorization ceiling and then requesting a study that suggests that the program discourages energy conservation. It clearly shows little understanding of the role played by Weatherization and LIHEAP in helping to increase affordability through bill payment assistance and conservation. A state-by-state distribution of the $3.4 billion level.
H.R. 4 would also increase the authorization level for the Weatherization program from “such sums as may be necessary’ to $273,000,000 for fiscal year 2002, $325,000,000 for fiscal year 2003, $400,000,000 for fiscal year 2004, and $500,000,000 for fiscal year 2005′”.
There is considerable support in the Senate for including the $3.4 billion in the final energy policy bill, as well as increasing the authorization level for the Weatherization program.