States Report Highest Level Of Household Energy Assistance In 13 Years
The total number of households receiving heating assistance has increased by 12% to almost 5.8 million households, the highest number in 13 years, while the number expected to receive cooling assistance is expected to jump to 594,441, 88.6% higher than last years level of 279,036 and the highest level in the history of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) program according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association.
Nine states reported increases of at least 25% in the number of households receiving heating assistance: Louisiana 46.2%; Arizona 33.7%; Florida 33%; Kansas 32.2%; Arkansas 30%; District of Columbia 27.2%; Nevada 26.3%; California 25%; and Oklahoma 25%. Of the 12 states providing cooling assistance, three did not do so in FT 2005 (Arkansas, Georgia and Illinois) and five are projecting increases of more than 20%: Alabama 21.3%; Delaware 525%; Florida 35%; Louisiana 30%; and Texas 219.1.
The need for higher appropriations for energy assistance is likely to continue into the next few years. Utilities across the country are requesting and receiving significant rate increases. The following provides a summary of key rate requests and increases by utility:
Approved electric increases: 72% ($743/year), Baltimore Gas & Electric (1 million customers)
39% ($468/year), PEPCO in Maryland
35% ($464/year), Delmarva Power & Light Company in Maryland
34%, Unitil Corporation in New Hampshire (71,100 customers)
22.4%, Connecticut Light & Power (1.1 million customers)
20%, Excel Energy in Colorado (1.3 million customers)
14.7%, Kentucky Power Company (175,000 customers)
14%, Empire District Electric in Kansas (157,000 customers)
10%, Central Maine Power (520,000 customers)
9%, Bangor Hydro-Electric in Maine
20%, Arizona Public Service
30.8%, Duke Energy Ohio
19%, Enstar Natural Gas, an average increase of about $16.21 per month. Enstar is the largest Natural Gas provider in the State of Alaska.
Proposed electric increases:
14.4%, after 10% rate increase effected in January 2006 and 7% increase in 2005, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation; proposed increase to take effect over three years (450,000 customers)
10.8%, PacifiCorp in Oregon (535,000 customers)