We help low-income residents with utility bills. Find out how.Posted Feb 07, 2020
NHLA attorney Ray Burke would like more low-income consumers to know they may be eligible for financial assistance with their electric, fuel and other energy expenses or help with a utility disconnection.
Burke, the director of NHLA’s Energy and Utility Justice Project, joined Rick Maynard for his Manchester public access television show last week to raise awareness about NHLA’s advocacy.
You can watch the show, which included Don Kreis, Consumer Advocate for the state, and co-host Glenn Ouellette, on Maynard’s YouTube channel.
“Nationally, lower income households tend to pay disproportionately more of their income on their energy costs than non-low-income households, up to three times as much,” Burke said. “Unfortunately, it often puts people in a difficult choice: Should they pay their utility bill or other basic necessities such as food or medical care?”
In New Hampshire, low-income consumers whose household income is less than 60 percent of the state median income may qualify for a number assistance programs:
· The Electric Assistance Program, which NHLA was instrumental in creating, provides a discount on electric bills.
· The Fuel Assistance Program helps households with fuel bills, arranging fuel delivery during a heating emergency, and delaying a shut-off notice.
· The Home Energy Assistance Program provides funding for energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs, heating system repairs, and other energy-saving improvements a low-income consumer could otherwise not afford. Landlords may be eligible for the program if their tenants meet the low-income threshold.
· The Weatherization Assistance Program provides funding to reduce energy costs for low-income household by increasing the energy efficiency through a variety of options: eliminating drafts through weather-stripping; repairing broken exterior doors; patching small holes in walls and roofs (and repairing damaged windows); performing minor furnace maintenance and repair; and insulating attics, walls, floors, perimeters, water heater pipes and furnace ducts.
“We see energy efficient measures as the longer term sustainable solution,” Burke said. “The cheapest form of energy is the energy you don’t use.”
Consumers may apply for all four programs with a single application through a local Community Action Agency. Visit the state’s Office of Strategic Initiatives.
NHLA represents individual clients at no cost to them through its Energy and Utility Justice Project on not only accessing these programs but also appealing denials and terminations of assistance. The Energy and Utility Justice Project can also represent clients who are facing a disconnection of utility service and who need to negotiate a payment plan for utility arrears owed.
Additionally, NHLA advocates at the state level for funding and policies to sustain assistance to low-income consumers.
For additional information, visit NHLA’s website.
Funding support for this program was provided in part by the IOLTA program of the New Hampshire Bar Foundation