Governor, DPHHS Announce $27 Million To Help With Home Heating Bills Amid High Inflation

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HELENA, Mont. – Together with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), Governor Greg Gianforte announced that $27 million in federal funding is available to help Montanans with heating bills this winter and to weatherize more homes.

In October, the federal government projected home heating bills will skyrocket by as much as 54 percent compared to last winter. In the last year, inflation has driven up the price of fuel oil by 59 percent, propane and firewood by 35 percent, and utility gas by 28 percent.

Additional funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) and Weatherization programs are available through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Based on the recommendations from Montana’s ARPA Health Advisory Commission, Governor Gianforte devoted $27 million for the new program on June 28, 2021.

Eligible Montanans can find LIHEAP application information at liheap.mt.gov.

About $14 million in funding will be used to increase heat assistance payments for the lowest income households with the highest energy burden, as well as special populations such as the elderly, disabled, or households with young children.

The ARPA funds temporarily supplement the existing LIHEAP program and provide an increase in benefits to households that could benefit from these funds the most.

 A portion of the funds will pay for a new, temporary benefit to pay for utility arrearages and emergency payments for reconnection fees or to stop service disconnects. The increase in payments will only apply for the 2021-22 LIHEAP season.

The $6 million allocation to the Weatherization Program will reduce energy costs for additional households by increasing energy efficiency in homes. DPHHS officials say these investments have long-term impacts, and the estimated annual savings to each home receiving weatherization services is about $409.