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Oct 03, 2008
Governor Bobby Jindal Announces $57.1 Million in LIHEAP Funding to Help LA Families with High Cost of Utilities

BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal announced that the federal funding continuing resolution recently signed by President Bush includes $57.1 million for Louisiana through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to assist low-income families in affording the high cost of utility bills. This $57.1 million in fiscal year 2009 funding for the state is nearly three times the $19.7 million in LIHEAP funding authorized for Louisiana in 2008, and does not include an additional $10 million in state funding for low-income energy assistance allocated by the Governor in August.

Governor Jindal said, “This critical federal funding comes at a very important time for many Louisiana families struggling to pay their high utility bills, especially as we are continuing to recover from two back-to-back hurricanes. I am pleased that Congress has acted to provide this vital assistance to our people, just as we did at the state level by transferring $10 million in funding to help low-income households with the high cost of utilities a few months ago.”

The LIHEAP initiative primarily provides assistance to low-income households by temporarily assisting families in paying energy bills beyond their means of payment. Before Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, Governor Jindal, Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell came up with a plan to re-direct $10 million in state funds to help Louisiana families afford the high cost of their utility bills.

This $10 million was transferred from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which had been the agency handling the funds identified for the plan, to the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency (LHFA) to be split evenly between the LIHEAP and Weatherization Assistance Program, and administered through the Louisiana Association of Community Action Partnerships. The U.S. Department of Energy approved the state plan to transfer these funds in September and these funds have already been transferred.

“It is appropriate for the federal government to respond to help those most vulnerable to high energy prices.  This federal commitment announced today follows the Governor’s lead to obligate $10 million in state funds for this same purpose,” Secretary Angelle said.

With the state’s additional funding authorized by Governor Jindal, the LIHEAP program had enough money to serve an estimated 60,000 Louisiana households in 2008, based on estimated average payments. Estimates indicate the $57.1 million in LIHEAP funding for 2009 could serve about 120,000 households. This money will be available for LHFA sometime in the late fall.

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