Just days before the midterm elections, the Biden administration has announced it will pay out almost $14 billion to defray record energy costs of low-income voters in primarily Democrat states.
As part of the initiative, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is also providing $4.5 billion in low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding, it said in a statement.
U.S. consumers can expect to pay up to 28 percent more to heat their homes this winter than last year due to surging fuel costs the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected in its winter fuels outlook in October.
The new funding will help Americans with heating costs and unpaid utility bills and repairs of home energy appliances that will help lower their energy costs, the White House alleged.
Separately, the U.S. Department of Energy will allocate over $9 billion in funding from the so-called Inflation Reduction Act to support up to 1.6 million households in upgrading their homes to lower energy bills. The upgrades, however, will not be done this year, or in time for the upcoming winter.
About 90 percent of the roughly 130 million U.S. households rely on natural gas or electricity for heat. The rest use either heating oil, propane or wood for heat.
EIA forecast the average household will spend about $931 for gas heat this winter and about $1,359 for electric heat. That is a 28 percent increase versus last year.
Despite the big increase in cost, gas will remain the nation’s cheapest source of heat.
Most of the assistance, according to administration data, will go to households in primarily Democrat, or “blue” urban areas. Most of the funding will be poured into New England and Upper Midwest states such as Michigan.
–Wire services including Reuters.