The man who heads up the program that provides heating assistance to low-income Iowans is reluctant to get overly excited about predictions of lower heating bills this winter. Jerry McKim leads the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or "LIHEAP", and says he’s skeptical that natural gas prices will stay low.
McKim says he’ll believe it when he sees it, and it’s not so much the natural gas prices, but the heating bill. McKim says lower natural gas prices don’t always translate into lower heating bills. "If the bill is actually lower this winter than last winter, of course that’ll be welcome relief to a large segment of our population here that simply cannot afford what’s become a basic necessity," McKim says.
McKim says the impact of last year’s high prices continue to linger and there was a 14-percent increase in utility disconnections. McKim says,"That’s nearly 23,000 households who have been disconnected between April and July — so folks are still struggling to pay off last winter’s bills and a lot them will some significant debt into this winter even if there are lower bills."
Iowa received around 76-million dollars last year form the federal government for LIHEAP, and McKim says just over 95,000 Iowans sought and were provided help with their bills. This year’s heating assistance allocation has not been announced, but McKim believes it will be the about the same as last year.
MidAmerican energy estimated bills could be 40% lower this winter, while Alliant Energy estimated they could be 20% lower.