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News Room

Columbia Gas of Maryland Advocates for Federal Funding to Support its Most Vulnerable Customers

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Columbia Gas of Maryland joined other utilities today in Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress to advocate for the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP provides funding for the Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) for low-income customers who need financial assistance to keep the heat on in cold weather.

Today is LIHEAP Action Day, and Columbia Gas representatives have teamed up with peers from utility companies and community action agencies around the country to meet with elected representatives and staffers to educate them on how LIHEAP helps many of their constituents.

LIHEAP is funded through Congress’ annual appropriations process and offers assistance to households with a maximum annual income at 150% of federal poverty guidelines, or 60% of a state’s median income. However, the median income of actual LIHEAP recipients is only about half of that income level.

During the 2016-17 winter heating season, nearly 2,500 Columbia Gas of Maryland customers received assistance with their natural gas bill through LIHEAP/MEAP.

“It is critically important that Congress continue to adequately fund the LIHEAP program, which serves our most vulnerable customers during the times of year when they need utility services the most,” said Mike Huwar, Columbia Gas of Maryland president. “At Columbia Gas of Maryland, we have a long history of participating in LIHEAP Action Day and being champions for our customers.”

Approximately six million households are helped by LIHEAP in each heating season, but more than 35 million households are eligible for assistance, according to the National Energy & Utility Affordability Coalition. Despite this need, LIHEAP funding has been reduced by 34% since 2010. The president’s fiscal year 2019 budget has proposed eliminating LIHEAP funding entirely.

LIHEAP recipients are a diverse group, and include elderly retirees on fixed incomes, military veterans, single parents, the disabled and others struggling financially.

In addition to providing financial assistance for fuel and utility bills, LIHEAP provides low-cost home weatherization and energy-related home repairs.

In Maryland, LIHEAP/MEAP applications are accepted year-round. Customers can apply through the Maryland Office of Home Energy Programs at Customers having trouble paying their bills should contact Columbia Gas of Maryland at 1-800-537-7431.

About Columbia Gas of Maryland

Media Contact:
Russell Bedell