Columbia Gas of Kentucky advocates for federal funding to support its most vulnerable customers

Mar 13, 2018

Today is LIHEAP Action Day and representatives of NiSource are meeting in Washington, D.C. with members of Congress to advocate for the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Federal LIHEAP grants fund state-administered energy assistance programs for low-income customers who need financial assistance to keep the heat on in winter. LIHEAP is funded through Congress’ annual appropriations process, and offers assistance to households with a maximum annual income at 150% of federal poverty guidelines, or 60% of a state’s median income. However the median income of actual LIHEAP recipients is only about half of that income level.

During the 2016-17 winter heating season, 170,867 customers in NiSource’s seven-state service territory received more than $47 million in LIHEAP assistance, including 2,414 customers in Kentucky.

“It is critically important that Congress continue to adequately fund the LIHEAP program, which serves our most vulnerable customers during the times of year when they need utility services the most,” said Herbert A. Miller, Jr., president and COO of Columbia Gas of Kentucky.

Approximately 6 million households are helped by LIHEAP in each heating season, but more than 35 million households are eligible for assistance, according to the National Energy & Utility Affordability Coalition. Despite this need, LIHEAP funding has been reduced by 34% since 2010. The president’s fiscal year 2019 budget has proposed eliminating LIHEAP funding entirely.

LIHEAP recipients are a diverse group, and include elderly retirees on fixed incomes, military veterans, single parents, the disabled and others struggling financially. In addition to providing financial assistance for fuel and utility bills, LIHEAP provides low-cost home weatherization and energy-related home repairs.

Customers having trouble paying their natural gas bills should contact Columbia Gas of Kentucky at 1-800-432-9345.