$35M released for heating program


BANGOR — U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King announced Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released an initial $3.05 billion in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, funds for the first quarter of fiscal year 2015 — $35,328,047 of which will go to Maine.

The funding will help low-income, elderly Mainers heat their homes this winter, Collins and King said in a joint statement.

Earlier this month, in an effort to help millions of Americans struggling with their energy bills as winter approaches, Collins and King were part of a bipartisan group of 46 senators who wrote to the Obama administration requesting the immediate release of the federal heating aid funds.

“The LIHEAP program assists nearly 50,000 households in Maine and remains an important lifeline that helps prevent people from having to choose between heating their home, paying their bills, or going without food or medicine,” Collins and King said.

“We are pleased that HHS heeded our call to release these critical funds now, which will help tens of thousands of Mainers to stay warm while still being able to make ends meet,” they said.

LIHEAP is a federal grant program that provides states with annual funding to operate home energy assistance programs for low-income households. Besides helping to pay energy bills, LIHEAP helps fund energy crisis intervention programs, low-cost residential weatherization and other energy-related home repairs.