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ALFANO BACKS PATERSON PLAN TO HELP LOW-INCOME HOMEOWNERS COPE WITH HIGH HEATING COSTS THIS WINTER

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Assemblyman Tom Alfano announced his support today for an initiative being promoted by Governor Paterson to help Long Island households reduce their energy use and spend less to heat their homes this winter. The package includes significant increases in benefits and changes to eligibility levels for the State’s heating assistance program, an additional $49 million for household energy efficiency programs, improved agency administration of efficiency and heating assistance programs, and expanded workshops to help homeowners and renters to reduce their energy use at little or no cost.

The plan being backed by Alfano will directly assist families.  “This is not just an idea- this is something tangible, makes sense, and will give relief to families and seniors who really need help. We have a responsibility to help our fellow neighbors. This is real and is not just a lot of talk without any action. That’s why I’m proud to support it and I thank the Governor for building on the Assembly’s plan we passed a few months ago,” said Assemblyman Alfano.

“The State has an obligation to help our residents get through this winter in any way we can. While we cannot influence world energy prices in any significant way, we can reduce the amount of energy we use and effectively lower our energy bills. The cheapest energy is the energy never used,” said Governor Paterson. “This is a first-step in New York’s efforts to address the high cost of heating fuel this winter. We are taking this action to provide additional funding to help the State’s residents reduce their energy bills, at little or no cost, while maintaining the level of comfort New Yorkers deserve.”

“This is direct help for families and senior citizens and couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Assemblyman Tom Alfano adding, “back in June I stood with the Assembly and slammed big oil for their outrageous profits earned off the backs of middle class families and seniors.  We took a strong stand and passed landmark bills to attack their corporate greed. Now, this program is a positive step in helping those heat their homes this winter.”

Back in June, Assemblyman Alfano helped lead the fight that would stop price gauging, deny pass-throughs on consumers by jacking gas prices per gallon, impose a surcharge to big oil like a gross receipts tax and fine big oil $35,000 a day for violations.  “We needed to take a strong stand that would gain the attention of big oil.  They have victimized consumers going to work, dropping their kids at school, shopping for groceries- everyone. And, it had to stop.”

The following actions are part of the plan that Assemblyman Alfano backed today with Governor Paterson:

- The State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) is planning to increase the maximum grant offered through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). All eligible HEAP recipients that heat with a deliverable fuel (oil, propane or kerosene) will receive an $800 regular benefit. This represents a 48 percent increase over the current maximum benefit of $540, which will help address high fuel prices. In addition, the HEAP emergency benefit will increase from $700 to $800 for these recipients. Household income eligibility levels for the program will also be expanded to the maximum permitted under federal law. As a result, a family of four with up to $45,312 in annual income can now access HEAP benefits.

- OTDA, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) and the Office for the Aging (OFA) are in the process of developing procedures to ensure that the most at-risk HEAP recipients receive priority for weatherization services.

- The Public Service Commission (PSC) has increased the amount of low-income funding provided by local utility companies and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) by $32 million, to improve the energy efficiency of homes. NYSERDA will also spend an additional $2 million this winter to help more New Yorkers reduce their energy use while also keeping their homes heated.

- The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is offering a $5 million “Weatherization Blitz” to customers served by municipal electric systems throughout Upstate New York. NYPA will distribute “do-it-yourself” kits and energy savings tip sheets to residents through these utilities that could result in energy savings in the upcoming months.

- The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) is making $10 million available to its low-income senior customers for direct bill payment assistance. In addition, LIPA will be expanding its support for improved energy efficiency in homes for all of its customers in Long Island and New York City.

- The Department of Public Service will hold an emergency summit to discuss expanding utility budget billing programs and other options for making bill payment easier, and consider changes to termination policies to reduce the likelihood of service disruptions during cold weather months.

In addition, State agencies and authorities that offer energy efficiency and heating assistance programs will coordinate outreach efforts to help New Yorkers gain access to information and services. The participating agencies include the Consumer Protection Board, DHCR, NYSERDA, OFA, OTDA, PSC, LIPA and NYPA. The improved and coordinated outreach will make it easier for residents to find the assistance they need.

Assemblyman Alfano also noted that a new website and hotline number hosted by NYSERDA will provide information on all the State’s heating-related programs. That website will be up and running within a few weeks. NYSERDA will also coordinate a series of workshops that will be held around the State to inform New Yorkers of the actions they can take to lower their heating bills by making their homes more energy-efficient.

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 14 September 2008 08:31 )  

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