Operation Fuel Calls for Connecticut to Implement Low-Income Cap | Connecticut Public Radio

Operation Fuel Calls for Connecticut to Implement Low-Income Cap

Dec 7, 2016

Federal and state authorities are being urged to do more to help families in Connecticut who struggle to afford utility bills. 

Operation Fuel, the agency which provides assistance to households in need, says the affordability gap in the state actually decreased slightly this year, but it still leaves many people in crisis. 

According to their latest analysis, 322,000 households in the state fall short of meeting their annual energy bills by an average of $1,241.

Roger Colton, who wrote the report on the affordability gap, said he would like to see the state force utility companies to introduce a low-income program. Families in need would have their bills capped at a percentage of their income, and the balance would be collected from other rate payers.

"What utilities have found is that they're actually better off having implemented a low-income program," he said, "because they end up collecting more money and spending less in the process of collection than had they simply billed the unaffordable amount in the first place."

He cited New Hampshire and Maine as nearby states where utilities are required to provide a low-income program.

Colton also issued an appeal to the federal government and the president-elect to maintain funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.

"To reduce or eliminate LIHEAP would be to call for an incredible crisis in Connecticut and elsewhere," he warned.

Operation Fuel provided $3.18 million in energy assistance to 7,705 households last fiscal year.