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NM to Help Improve Safety, Efficiency of Propane and Wood-Heated Homes

New Mexico begins a project in late summer or early fall aimed at helping low-income residents that heat their homes with propane or wood.

New Mexico is one of three states that have been awarded a Residential Energy Assistance Challenge Program (REACH) grant of $385,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Energy Assistance.

"Families that use propane spend more money heating their homes than those using natural gas or electricity, and families using either propane or fire wood are often not able to afford crucial safety inspections or repairs to keep their homes and themselves safe from fire and asphyxiation hazards," said  Katie Falls,  New Mexico Human Services Department Secretary.

"The REACH grant has the potential to help many of the 15,000 people who received assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program for propane and wood-burning stoves this past year," she added.

The REACH project, called the Low Income Networking and Conservation Plan, will assist eligible New Mexicans with the following services based on need and funding availability:

  • Funds for the purchase of bulk fuel,
  • Assistance with partial or complete cost of heating system installation/safety inspections,
  • Assistance with partial or complete cost of repairs to home heating system,
  • Home energy audit, and
  • Assistance with partial cost of improving the energy efficiency of a home (could include sealing, insulation, or installation of programmable thermostat).

Priority will be given to vulnerable families -  those with children, individuals with disabilities or chronic illness and the elderly.

The New Mexico Humans Services Department, the LIHEAP grantee, will work with HELP-NM Inc., a non-profit community action agency, to complete a needs assessment, determine eligibility of participants, determine services to be provided, provide outreach services, educate participants, provide payments to or on behalf of eligible participants and conduct follow-up with participants.

The REACH initiatives are expected to begin in late summer or early fall of 2010.

Source:  New Mexico Human Services Department