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Puerto Rico get $35.4M from US gov’t for home energy assistance

Due to the passage of the American Rescue Plan, Puerto Rico has received $35.4 million for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) available this fiscal year, which runs through September 2022.

As part of a state-by-state breakdown of funding, the White House reported that in addition to an annual appropriation of $15.2 million for Puerto Rico, the island received an additional $20.3 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan — more than double its typical annual funding.

“The total of $35.4 million is the highest amount Puerto Rico has ever received in LIHEAP to help Americans struggling with home energy costs,” the White House said.

In 2021, the LIHEAP received $8 billion in funding nationally, more than doubling typical annual appropriations due to $4.5 billion provided by the American Rescue Plan, the federal government stated.

“This is the largest appropriation in a single year since the program was established in 1981. These resources are already allowing states and territories across the country to provide more home energy relief than ever before,” according to the White House press release.

The American Rescue Plan provided other critical resources that states, territories and localities can use to address home energy costs. ERA programs, which received an additional $21.5 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan, can provide help with past-due utility bills or ongoing assistance with energy costs to help distressed renters avoid shut-offs and keep current on expenses.

State and local Fiscal Recovery Funds can also be deployed to help deliver energy relief to families.

To ensure that the resources are distributed swiftly and equitably this winter, the White House has taken several steps, including calling on states and territories to plan early to distribute American Rescue Plan funds to address home energy costs.

It also called on utility companies to prevent shut offs and help expedite the delivery of federal aid. So far, 14 utility companies and a delivered fuel trade association have responded.

That list includes Atlantic City Electric, Baltimore Gas and Electric, ComEd, Delmarva Power, Pacific Gas & Electric, PECO, Pepco, DTE Energy, Eversource, Green Mountain Power, National Grid, NorthWestern Energy, Portland General Electric and Vermont Gas, as well as the trade association NEFI.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is not on that list and does not appear to be a member of NEFI.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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