White House highlights effort to cover winter heating bills

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The Biden administration is distributing an additional $4.5 billion to low-income Americans to help cover heating costs during the second pandemic winter, with cold-weather states receiving the largest share.

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WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is distributing an additional $4.5 billion to low-income Americans to help cover heating costs during a second pandemic winter, according to a state-by-state breakdown released Friday, which includes cold weather. obtains the largest share. ,

The funding boost – part of last year’s $1.9 trillion US rescue plan coronavirus relief package – more than doubled the normal funding level of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. These funds represent the largest appropriation in a single year since the program’s inception in 1981.

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The Associated Press obtained an advance copy of the state allocation breakdown, which shows a clear preference for cold-weather states with high heating costs. For example, Minnesota received about $274 million in household energy assistance for residents in need. Meanwhile, Texas, which has five times the population, only received $10 million more. New York state, with a population of less than 20 million people, received just under $876 million, compared to Texas’s 29 million.

President Joe Biden’s administration also announced the commitments of seven major utility companies nationwide to guarantee no shutoffs for customers seeking assistance and to identify and qualify recipients of government aid. be informed.

The fresh commitments announced Friday morning come from Atlantic City Electric, Baltimore Gas & Electric, ComEd, Delmarva Power, Pacific Gas & Electric, PECO and Pepco. They join seven other major utility companies that made similar pledges late last year.

Electricity and natural gas prices are up about 11% from a year ago, according to the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index. According to the Energy Information Administration, residential heating oil prices are up about 40% from a year ago. The range of increase has eased in recent months as wholesale heating oil prices were roughly at the start of October.

This aid is meant to help mitigate the shock of high winter energy costs. But Republican lawmakers have said the overall relief package, which was signed into law by the Democratic president in March, has caused higher levels of inflation by pumping too much money into the economy.

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Associated Press writer Josh Bok contributed to this report.

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