The chief of the state’s energy assistance bureau says more than 31,000 low income Iowa households already have qualified for help in paying their utility bills this winter.
Jerry McKim works with Community Action Agencies across the state to enroll Iowans in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
“Energy is clearly unaffordable for a large segment of our population,” he says.
Each Iowa household that qualifies for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program will receive a one-time payment this winter of between $450 and $500.
“Between the weather and some of the fuel prices, we’re maybe holding our own — up to a point,” McKim says. “I still believe my benefit is wholly inadequate to address the energy insecurity that a lot of Iowa households experience.”
McKim says Iowa utilities sent disconnect notices to 91,000 Iowa households in September.
“My phone number is on every one of those notices,” McKim says. “Now, I don’t get 91,000 calls, but I’m getting probably about half a dozen a day, folks who are being threatened with disconnection and they’re wanting to know what we can do to help them, if they’re eligible, etc.”
The state ban on disconnecting gas and electric service went into effect November 1 and lasts through April 1, but it only applies to low-income households that are signed up for a government program to weatherize their home or the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program McKim manages in Iowa. 21 degrees.”
“Even if a household’s eligible, but doesn’t apply, they could be disconnected,” McKim says. “The only other protection from disconnection is a severe weather one that if the National Weather Service says it’s going to be 20 degrees or colder within 24 hours of your scheduled disconnection the utility has to hold off, but of course they’ll have to hold off until it’s a balmy 21 degrees.”
Applications for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program are accepted from October 1 through April 30.