Governor Tom Vilsack’s urging the president and Congress to plug more money into the program that helps low-income Americans pay their heating bills.
Experts estimate winter heating bills could be 20 percent higher this season compared to last. Vilsack says that could translate into up seven-hundred more dollars for the average Iowa family. “Our first concern is of course low income Iowans, those who are living on fixed incomes, who may have a difficulty absorbing additional energy costs in a very tight budget,” Vilsack says.
Vilsack is one of 28 governors who’ve co-signed a letter asking Congressional leaders to immediately funnel almost one-point-two billion more dollars to the Low Income Heat and Energy Assistance Program. “Obviously, in light of recent events, we think it would be wise for Congress and the Administration to consider additional emergency relief for low income Iowans and Americans,” Vilsack says.
Vilsack has also asked state agencies to cancel or at least curtail travel to save gasoline costs. In addition, the state has called in MidAmerican Energy trainers to conduct an “employee awareness campaign.” Vilsack has set a goal of reducing the state’s energy bills by 15 percent within the next five years. Finally, Vilsack has signed a compact with seven other Midwestern states’ governor to investigate ways individuals, businesses and governments the region can reduce natural gas use by five percent. Vilsack says the states could save billions that could be spent on other priorities.