The LIHEAP Clearinghouse Summary of Supplements to Energy Assistance and Energy Efficiency is a continuously updated, state-by-state compilation of the resources that supplement LIHEAP and low-income energy efficiency programs. It includes links to enabling legislation or regulatory commission orders, where available. Resources are grouped into these categories:
- state and local funds
- state public benefit funds
- utility rate-payer funds
- private funds (fuel funds, church, charitable and community contributions)
- non-regulated bulk fuel vendor contributions
- miscellaneous resources
The two state categories, State and Local Funds and State Public Benefits Funds differ as follows: The former are funds from state, county or city governments, usually from general funds, special taxes, or tax waivers. Public benefit funds, also called system benefit funds, or universal service funds, are those created through state electric or natural gas restructuring legislation or regulation. Funding comes from a charge assessed on electric and/or gas consumers, which states refer to as a public goods surcharge, system benefits charge, societal benefits charge, public benefits fee, universal service fee, meters charge, etc. These funds are administered or overseen by a state agency, typically the state LIHEAP/weatherization agency or the regulatory commission.
Sources of the compilations:
- state LIHEAP leveraging reports. (Filed at the end of each fiscal year, these reports summarize by dollar amount and resource category, the non-federal resources states have obtained to supplement energy assistance and energy efficiency for low-income households).
- individual utilities
- utility regulatory commission reports and filings, including resources obtained through utility restructuring
- state government / legislative Web sites for legislation
Limitations of the data: The reported totals are estimates based upon the most reliable and recent data available. However:
- LIHEAP leveraging reports are over a year old: The most recent reports available were submitted in November 2005 for FY 2005. FY 2006 totals will be available in mid-2007.
- Leveraging is voluntary; not all states participate in the LIHEAP leveraging incentive program.
- Leveraging reports do not always give a complete statewide picture. Some resources are not reported through leveraging or are underreported, and some resources, while addressing low-income households' energy needs, are not countable because they are not coordinated and integrated with the state LIHEAP, a requirement under the leveraging program rules. As a result, the database cites a state's LIHEAP leveraging report when it is the only information available. Where more complete totals are available, they are included in place of reported leveraging totals.
- In some cases, resource totals are what utilities have committed to spend, the resource is estimated based on previous years' reported expenditures, or it is prorated based on a partial year. As a result, year-end totals may differ from the database estimates.
- It should be noted that because a state has no monetary resources listed does not mean it has no energy safety net for low-income households. For example, many states prohibit disconnection of low-income, elderly or disabled households during extreme cold or heat. (For a summary of these prohibitions see "Seasonal Termination Protection Regulations." These and other costs associated with maintaining services to non-paying customers are often included in utilities' uncollectible write-offs.
It is advisable to follow links from the database to the LIHEAP Clearinghouse utility restructuring section where more complete information is presented on low-income energy programs under restructuring, which are constantly changing. For example, each state's programs under restructuring legislation or regulatory orders are summarized, including programs authorized but not yet funded.