TVA EnergyRight® has joined with local power companies to launch a resource that helps Valley families in need find information more easily about federal funds available through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
APRIL 30, 2020 -- Small mouths to feed. Elderly parents in need of medicine. Rents or mortgages to pay. Overdue bill notices. It’s all a crushing burden for many across America who’ve seen jobs and income evaporate in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. More people than ever before are now eligible for income-based assistance programs, but accessing them can be a real challenge for already overwhelmed families.
That’s why TVA EnergyRight has joined with local power companies to grow awareness of a federal program called the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, and refer families to where they can apply.
LIHEAP has operated since 1980 to help eligible households pay their home energy bills. But as part of the recently passed COVID-19 federal stimulus package, it has received an additional $900 million cash infusion for all states.
The federal program’s focus, traditionally, has been on families with low incomes who bear a high energy burden—that is, who pay a high portion of household income toward their monthly power bills. However, during this unprecedented time, rules for eligibility are expected to be relaxed to enable more people to qualify for assistance.
EnergyRight has launched a resource to make it a little easier to take the first steps toward getting help. The LIHEAP Energy Bill Assistance site makes county-by-county LIHEAP referrals within the seven state Tennessee Valley region TVA serves. Any resident can simply visit the site, select their state and county, and receive the personalized agency contact information and income guidelines needed to determine their eligibility, and—if so—get started with a LIHEAP application.
“LIHEAP is the key program serving low income and vulnerable households by reducing their home energy costs. Keeping homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter helps families stay safe. As we are all spending more time in our homes, we want to make sure that low-income households are aware of LIHEAP and I want to thank the Tennessee Valley Authority for helping raise awareness of the program,” said Blake Worthington, Housing Program Manager – Energy Programs with the Tennessee Housing Development Agency.
This resource is offered as part of TVA’s comprehensive strategy of resources, programs and assistance to support communities and customers through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak. It is also an extension of the regular programs offered through EnergyRight working to address high energy burdens, such as its Home Uplift weatherization assistance program.
“This resource is being promoted across the Valley to empower more families with the knowledge that there may be financial assistance out there for them,” said Jeannette Mills, TVA executive vice president and chief external relations officer. “Public power means doing what’s right for the people we serve, so we’re pleased to partner with local power companies to help get their customers to the right place to apply for these federal funds.”