The LIHEAP statute, Section 2605(b)(1) establishes a framework for how grantees spend their LIHEAP funds. Briefly, they are authorized to:
a) conduct outreach and provide assistance to households in meeting their home energy costs particularly those with the lowest incomes that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy. (Home energy is defined in the statute as "a source of heating or cooling in residential dwellings.")
b) intervene in energy crisis situations
c) provide low-cost weatherization and other cost-effective energy-related home repair
d) plan, develop and administer program, including leveraging programs
In practice, all tribal grantees provide either heating or cooling assistance or both, and all tribes are required to intervene in crisis situations. Section D of the Tribal Manual contains information regarding the creation of a crisis program. A tribe may decide to run a separate LIHEAP crisis program from its heating program. In this case, households would apply for their regular heating benefit and later, if they experience an energy crisis, they could apply for a crisis benefit. Some tribes prefer to run a "fast track crisis program." In this type of program, tribes only offer a regular heating benefit, but expedite the benefit if the household is experiencing a crisis situation.
Tribes have the flexibility to allocate up to 15 percent [Section 2605 (k)(1)] of LIHEAP funds (25 percent after receiving a waiver) to energy conservation measures. Section D of the Tribal Manual has a section on establishing a weatherization program and describing the waiver process. It states that many tribes use LIHEAP funds for weatherization believing, that in the long run, it will lower the need for energy assistance. If a tribe decides to run its own LIHEAP Weatherization Program, LIHEAP statutory rules and regulations apply to the use of those funds. If LIHEAP funds are used to supplement a tribe's existing Department of Energy weatherization program, the tribe has the choice to follow the DOE Weatherization Assistance Program rules, or all the LIHEAP rules, or parts of both.
At the 2012 National Energy and Utility Affordable Conference, Carina Kistler Ginter with the Grand Ronde Tribal Housing Authority gave an overview of their weatherization program.
For reports and overview of state weatherization programs, please see this page.