Home heating help funding fell short of what the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and others were hoping for in a 2015 appropriations bill, according to a story by Michael Kahn in the July 17 issue of Electric Co-op Today.

NRECA joined the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition, several governors, House members and senators from both parties, and others in urging Congress to earmark at least $4.7 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

But at a June 10 markup of the bill funding the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, the total was less. A Senate Appropriations subcommittee recommended funding at $3.39 billion.

“LIHEAP is important to rural communities, where extreme weather and economic crises hit hard, so it is unfortunate that lawmakers did not provide the $4.7 billion so desperately needed,” said NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson. “LIHEAP helps many fixed-income households cope with home fuel costs during both cold and hot weather emergencies.”

The subcommittee said it was committed to LIHEAP. “Severe weather in parts of the country last year coupled with a spike in the prices of certain home energy fuels has re-emphasized the need for this critical assistance to low-income families,” the panel said.

The appropriation is far less than the high water mark of $5.1 billion in FY2010, but is still more than the $2.8 billion the Obama administration proposed in its FY2015 budget released earlier this year.