Contact: Anne Lupardus, Office of the Governor, 608-261-2162
Governor Jim Doyle today announced that the State of Wisconsin will receive an additional $26.2 million in emergency funds to help low and fixed income citizens afford their energy bills this winter. The additional funds bring Wisconsin’s share of federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to $99.8 million. The money will be used by the state’s Division of Energy to provide assistance to households struggling to pay their energy bills.
“Many hard working Wisconsin families have been squeezed by the sky-rocketing cost of heating bills,” said Governor Doyle. “All season I have warned that as energy costs continue to rise, federal assistance has not kept pace. I am glad that Washington D.C. has finally heard my call for more assistance for the people of Wisconsin. Absolutely no one in our state should have to choose between the cost of groceries or the cost of heating their home.”
Heating costs have gone up as much as 50 percent, and utility companies are seeing a nearly 10 percent rise in the number of people who can’t pay their bills. Because federal heating assistance has not kept pace with rising prices, the buying power of the LIHEAP benefit has decreased from 49 percent of the average winter bill to approximately 27 percent.
To assist Wisconsin residents struggling with rising energy costs, Governor Doyle launched his Energy Help Initiative last fall. The initiative doubled the State’s commitment to energy assistance by providing an additional $16 million for low-income heating assistance.
This month, Governor Doyle signed legislation to provide emergency home heating assistance to thousands of additional hard-working families across Wisconsin who did not qualify for the federal assistance program. The $6 million assistance package, which passed the Legislature this month was part of a Special Session called by Governor Doyle, will provide eligible families with $200 to $300 to help with their heating bills.
Residents throughout the state can obtain information on where to apply for energy assistance by visiting Governor Doyle’s Energy Help website at http://energyhelp.wi.gov or by calling toll-free 1-800-522-3014.