The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides federal funding to consumers who struggle with heating and cooling bills, faces a serious threat. The House Appropriations Committee recently announced cuts for 2011 and President Obama's 2012 budget slashes funds by $2.5 billion.
In 2010, 547,000 Pennsylvania households received LIHEAP assistance. More than half could lose that assistance under the proposed cuts, forcing them to decide between heat and purchasing food or prescriptions.
Hardship programs, such as Dollar Energy Fund, are available for families who don't qualify for federal programs but still struggle to afford basic utilities. Last year, we assisted more than 14,800 households statewide. If the LIHEAP cuts occur, that number could grow to more than 300,000 households.
We ask all Pennsylvanians to contact their representatives and encourage full funding for LIHEAP. We need to act fast to ensure our neighbors in need have basic and necessary heating utilities.
Our region's winters are too harsh to leave anyone in the cold.
The writer is Dollar Energy Fund's CEO.