2008-11-21 / Community

Paterson: Residents Should Apply For HEAP

Gov. Paterson Gov. Paterson Governor David A. Paterson has announced that beginning Monday, November 3, eligible New Yorkers can apply to the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) for this winter season, allowing them to receive as much as $2,500 to help pay for heating costs. Governor Paterson also highlighted recent changes to HEAP including an expansion in income eligibility requirements for New Yorkers facing an energy emergency. Additionally, Governor Paterson announced an agreement between the State and utility companies, which will allow customers to pay their energy bills and keep service in place using HEAP money.

"Under the best of circumstances, New York winters can be difficult. With continued economic uncertainty, it is not just the poor and elderly who will have a difficult time paying for the cost of heating their homes this winter," said Governor Paterson. "With high energy prices still a concern, we have greatly increased heating assistance to low-income New Yorkers while expanding eligibility to those earning more but who are still struggling to make ends meet."

The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) - the agency responsible for administering HEAP in New York - has implemented changes to HEAP that will allow New York's most vulnerable residents to receive as much as $2,500 in aid this winter season. Additionally, New York will take advantage of a one-time federal authorization to increase the income eligibility for HEAP emergency benefits from $45,312 to $56,635 for a family of four effective January 1, 2009. Income eligible households without heating fuel, that are running low on fuel or that have heat-related utility service currently disconnected or scheduled for disconnection, may be eligible for HEAP emergency assistance.

A regular HEAP benefit will be available to those earning up to $45,312 annually for a family of four up from $43,308 last year.

New York State has received $550.9 million in federal HEAP funding, which has enabled OTDA to allow for those earning more to qualify for an emergency benefit, while also making available a second emergency benefit for those most in need.

The increased funding will also enable a $100 regular benefit supplement to be provided to all HEAP recipients who pay directly for heat starting in January 2009.

In September, Governor Paterson requested that an emergency utility summit be held to address rising energy costs.

During the summit, all major utility companies in the State agreed that during the cold weather period they will accept HEAP payments from customers and offer them a fair and reasonable deferred payment agreement.

New York State has worked on a number of fronts to improve energy efficiency and provide additional assistance to help lower energy bills this winter, including: - The income eligibility levels for New York's HEAP have been increased to reflect increases in the State's median income level. A family of four earning as much as $45,312 annually may qualify for HEAP in2008-09; - An increase in HEAP's regular and emergency benefits to $800 for those heating with oil, kerosene and/or propane, to enable them to purchase a minimum delivery of fuel, and raising the maximum regular benefit to $585 for all other customers; - Waiving HEAP's face-to-face application requirement for most applicants for emergency benefits; - A $32 million increase in the amount of low-income funding, approved by the PSC and provided by local utility companies and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), to improve the energy efficiency of homes. NYSERDA will also spend an additional $2 million this winter to help more New Yorkers reduce their energy use while also keeping their homes heated; - $18.8 million for energy efficiency in the Con Edison and National Grid gas service territories; this funding, approved by the PSC, will provide efficiency services that will help to reduce natural gas bills for New York families, particularly low-income households, this winter; - $5 million for weatherization and energy efficiency services, designed to enable HEAP recipients to realize immediate energy savings this winter; - A $5 million "Weatherization Blitz" offered by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to customers served by municipal electric systems throughout Upstate New York. NYPA will distribute "do-it-yourself" kits and energy savings tip sheets to residents through these utilities that could result in energy savings in the upcoming months; - $10 million made available by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) to its low-income senior customers for direct bill payment assistance. In addition, LIPA will be expanding its support for improved energy efficiency in homes for all of its customers; and - The launching of a statewide public information education campaign - HeatSmartNY - which includes a website (www.HeatSmartNY.org), a hotline number (877-NY-SMART), public service announcements and a series of 630 statewide workshops. These services provide consumers with easy, do-it-yourself tips to lower heating bills, as well as information about New York's heating related programs.

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