Friday, August 8, 2008

Heating Oil Program

State Rep. Dawn Hill (D- York) would like residents to know that applications for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will be accepted early this year, and Maine residents can make an appointment now to apply for heating assistance for this coming winter season.
Community Action Program Agencies across the state, like the York County Community Action Corp.(YCCAC), manage the LIHEAP program locally and schedule appointments for applications and fuel delivery.
“Given heating oil prices, many more residents will be applying to the program this year,” said Hill. “I encourage anyone who believes they may qualify for this program to schedule an appointment and complete an application as soon as possible to avoid processing delays.”
The program is designed to help low-income Mainers earning less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level, which is currently $15,600 for an individual and $31,800 for a family of four, to purchase heating fuels. Households with senior citizens or children age 2 and under will get first priority, and the income limits for those homes are $17,680 for an individual and $36,040 for a family of four.
There are different income limits for households of all sizes, from one person up to eight. YCCAC has information about all of the different income limits. The average benefit is expected to be around $417 per household this year, which at current rates would purchase about a third of a tank of oil.
In recent years Congress has released additional emergency funds for the program during the winter season, and the legislature and Gov. John Baldacci are urging Congress to appropriate more funds for the program this year, as demand and costs have risen so sharply. Washington has appropriated $17 million for LIHEAP to Maine this year; last year, the state got a total of $38 million after a series of emergency funds were released throughout the winter. There are no projections for the potential of additional funds from Washington at this time.
Applicants will not know if they’ve been approved or the total dollar amount that they will receive until fall, but Hill encouraged constituents to apply early in order to beat the rush and have the application process behind them. Thousands of households are expected to apply when the weather gets cold, and applying now will prevent a request from being held up for weeks or months with winter looming.
Maine homeowners and renters in York County can arrange an appointment to apply for assistance by contacting YCCAC at (800) 965-5762. YCCAC will begin to schedule appointments during the week of July 14.
In addition to LIHEAP, there are other state resources available for Mainers of all incomes to save on energy costs. For more information, constituents can contact Rep. Hill at 337-3689 or visit a new state web site:, which con-tains helpful information and resources on energy efficiency.