Applications open for emergency energy assistance in NH

More New Hampshire residents are now eligible for financial assistance with their heating and utility bills, after state officials approved two new emergency programs intended to cope with soaring energy costs.

The new programs are aimed at households that make 60% to 75% of median state income, or $74,942 to $93,676 per year for a family of four. Qualifying Granite Staters can receive $200 for electric bills and $450 for heat. This money would go directly to their utility or heating provider.

This expanded aid is intended to help those not already covered by pre-existing emergency energy relief efforts, which target those earning less than 60% of the state’s median income.

People interested in applying for emergency energy assistance can contact their local community action agency. (More information can be found here.) Applicants will be required to provide income information and will be notified of their eligibility for the program.

Southern New Hampshire Services chief operating officer Ryan Clouthier said his agency has seen an increase in interest in its energy assistance programs as higher rates begin to appear on utility bills. electricity. His advice: get in touch.

“Request fuel and electrical assistance as soon as possible,” Clouthier said. “You will be in a good position if you have created this application and started the process now.”

New Hampshire Department of Energy officials have not yet specified when emergency energy payments will begin to be issued, but those participating in the program will be notified when that happens.

Angela Zhang, director of programs at LISTEN Community Services in the Upper Valley, said the new programs are helpful, but they may not be enough to alleviate the high electricity bills many residents are seeing — which, in some cases, amount to hundreds of dollars more than they expected.

“A one-time $200 credit is definitely helpful,” she said. “I think people are going to need a lot more help to get through this season.”

Zhang said more investment in energy efficiency and weather protection, which can help reduce long-term energy bills, could be another way to help families.

New Hampshire Legal Aid attorney Raymond Burke is also concerned that this aid, while welcome, does not go far enough to support low-income households.

Specifically, Burke said it would have been helpful for low-income households who missed an initial round of emergency energy assistance to have the option to claim the additional credits on their bills.

State officials have approved a $405 credit for Granite Staters who received fuel assistance last year — but Burke said there are many reasons a family might not have not enrolled in this program.

“They still have low incomes and they still struggle to pay their utility bills,” he said. “Especially with electricity costs rising right now.”

Julio V. Miller