Wednesday 12 October 2022
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Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee, along with the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) and the Department of Human Services (DHS), have announced the launch of a new website that will provide a centralized resource for all publicly accessible state, federal, and Nonprofit Energy Assistance provides programs and funding for the upcoming winter season, free home energy assessments for homeowners and renters to reduce their energy use.
McKee also announced an additional $1.5 million in funding to help relieve Rhode Island’s most vulnerable residents on utility bills, bringing the total pledged relief to $5.3 million.
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the new website, EnergySupport.ri.gov, provides a simple, clear list of state, federal, and nonprofit energy assistance resources for Rhode Island residents. Specifically, financial contributions to help pay heating and utility bills are highlighted, including: Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Good Neighbor Energy Fund, Keep the Heat On, Free Home Energy Assessment Program, Weatherization Assistance Program, Heating System Repair and exchange program.
“During this season of unprecedented electricity and heating costs, it’s important that we do what we can to connect Rhode Island residents to available utilities that can help keep them warm this winter.” Finding help should be easy and straightforward – that’s our goal with this one-stop-shop website,” said McKee. “I am also announcing today that we will provide an additional $1.5 million in direct interest relief funding from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to help further reduce the electricity customer bills of our most vulnerable citizens. We have now allocated $5.3 million to help our most vulnerable constituents with their electricity bills this winter, and we will continue our efforts to bring further relief to all Rhode Island residents.”
“While our focus is often on getting tax cut help for our most vulnerable citizens, it’s important that all citizens are aware of the programs available to them,” said Chris Kearns, interim state energy commissioner. “For example, I encourage homeowners and renters to sign up for a free home energy assessment, where an energy specialist will assess their current energy use and identify potential opportunities for weathering their home or apartment and take advantage of money-saving incentives through the state’s annual energy efficiency programs. All of this and more can be found at energysupport.ri.gov.”
This year, LIHEAP is providing $32 million for qualified Rhode Island residents and $1.5 million for weathering assistance. Depending on a family’s income, a home heating system using oil or another deliverable fuel could receive anywhere from $981 to $1,285 in federal financial aid. Qualifying customers heating with gas could get anywhere from $805 to $970; those heating with electricity could get anywhere from $983 to $1,230.
McKee announced Tuesday that his administration “continues to take action to address rising energy costs and bring relief to all Rhode Island residents” — noting the following.
In August, McKee channeled $3.8 million in RGGI funds to provide direct tax breaks to approximately 39,000 of the state’s most vulnerable voters. With today’s additional announcement, the Governor’s pledge of aid increases to a total of $5.3 million. This will result in those 39,000 customers seeing a reduction in their electric bills of approximately $73 in December and January.
At McKee’s request, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) directed $32 million in Attorney General’s Settlement Loans to be returned to taxpayers. McKee has also requested that $17.5 million in Attorney General’s settlement funds be returned to ratepayers through their gas bills — this is currently pending before the PUC. As a result of these two measures, most low-income residents will see no increase in their overall electricity bills compared to last winter.
At the request of the governor, the PUC recently deferred the customer fee on all utility bills for a period of six months, giving homes and small businesses additional fee relief.
McKee will introduce legislation in the first week of the 2023 legislative session to suspend the state’s 4 percent gross purchase tax on utility bills until the April 2023 utility billing cycle, the final month when voters’ utility bills reflect winter electricity rates.
The governor’s budget for fiscal 2023 provides approximately $265 million in tax breaks to help offset costs for families, small businesses, veterans and seniors, including a child tax rebate that grants $250 per child to eligible families statewide .
The McKee Administration is working with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on the need to increase LIHEAP funding and ensure that all fuel resources for heat support are allocated to DHS before the start of the winter season.