Budget Deal Strips Low Income Energy Program

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The Congressional budget deal includes a big cut for a program that many Alaskans rely on. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, is losing $390 million from its emergency contingency fund.

But Ron Kreher, who oversees the program for the state, says it won’t have much of an impact on Alaskan families. He says its money that is usually released late in the year, so the state never factors it into the budget plan.

Kreher says the state has benefited from the emergency fund in the past, but it often goes to southern states that are affected by extreme hot weather:

Kreher is much more worried about the negotiations that will take place over next year’s budget. The Obama administration has proposed cutting total LIHEAP funding in half. If that happens, Kreher hopes the state would step in to make up the difference.

The average household that benefited from the program last year received about $1,300 to help pay for heating fuel. The money goes to more than 19,000 Alaskan households.

Download Audio (MP3)