White House is providing billions more for heating and electricity bills this winter


The Biden government is taking steps to help distribute billions of dollars in winter heating and utility bills, an unprecedented amount, largely from its $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

The package provided an additional $ 4.5 billion to the government’s low-income Home Energy Assistance Program, which is typically funded at $ 3 to 4 billion annually. Tenant allowances can also cover utilities costs, while money made available to state, local, and tribal governments can help families who face high heating bills and are not eligible for other programs.

“It’s another example of the American bailout plan having added precautionary measures to make sure we were prepared,” said Gene Sperling, who oversees coronavirus aid to the White House. “These new programs and funding are designed to ensure that in colder weather or higher prices we have the greatest resources ever to help as many families in need as possible.”

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The White House held a call Thursday afternoon with representatives from the governor’s offices to discuss ways in which the funds would be distributed and coordination between programs. Speakers at the conference include Sperling, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of Health and Welfare Xavier Becerra, and the governors of Connecticut, Maine, Michigan and Minnesota.

Snow falls around the White House in Washington, DC on January 13, 2019. (Photo by Al Drago / Getty Images)

The aid helps to create a cushion that will limit the pre-winter shock of higher energy costs. Republican lawmakers said the bailout package passed in March resulted in higher inflation, with prices in October up 6.2% from a year ago. The GOP argument is that the Biden aid package sent too much money into the economy, raised prices, and harmed middle-class and low-income families.

“Democratic inflation works like an ultra-punitive tax on the American families who can least afford it,” said Senate Republican chairman Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Wednesday.

But the expenditure from the aid package is already helping to protect millions of households from higher electricity bills and to relieve household budgets. Estimates by the Urban Institute, based on a survey by the Census Bureau, show that a third of families used the monthly payments from the extended child tax credit to pay their utility bills between July and October 2021.

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According to the Ministry of Labor’s consumer price index, electricity and natural gas prices are around 11% higher than a year ago. According to the Energy Information Administration, heating oil prices more than doubled in the past year.

The government also urges utility and energy companies to use the available government resources to protect their most vulnerable customers. DTE Energy, Eversource, National Grid, NorthWestern Energy, Green Mountain Power, Portland General Electric, Vermont Gas and the Distributed Fuel Trade Association NEFI have agreed to identify and notify eligible recipients and not guarantee shutdowns for customers seeking assistance.

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