May 8, 2015—NJ Shares, a fuel fund in New Jersey, recently issued its 2014 annual report. The group was able to help more than 55,000 households with their utility bills. Of those 55,000 households, 54 percent had a child 18 years or younger in the home, while 55 percent had a household member over 50 years old. NJ Shares also provided assistance to many households that fell outside the state’s LIHEAP income eligibility guidelines. Sixty-two percent of its recipient households had incomes between 200 and 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
NJ Shares cites the increase in poverty rates as the main proponent behind its decision to implement two new policies this past year. First, it increased its electric service grant from $300 to $500. Second, based on an impact evaluation conducted by APPRISE, NJ Shares cut back on the amount of time needed to process paperwork for those customers who had already been disconnected from power. These applicants no longer had to obtain a letter showing they had been denied assistance by state-funded programs. NJ Shares isn’t the only fuel fund reporting its accomplishments during the recently-ended heating season. Other fuel fund news includes:
- Energy Outreach Colorado celebrated its 25th Anniversary in its recent annual report. Among its list of achievements, Energy Outreach stated it had distributed $11.1 million in energy bill assistance across the state of Colorado to about 115, 000 households. Each household received an average payment of $426.
- Operation Fuel of Connecticut reported it had provided over $3 million in energy bill assistance to more than 17,700 households. Of those households, 1,691 were households with an elderly member, and 6,735 had at least one child under the age of 18. Funds were aided in great part by the state of Connecticut, who awarded Operation Fuel $1.9 million in grant money for the program. The Connecticut Attorney General also agreed to a settlement with the parent company of Connecticut Light and Power, which directed $2.5 million to Operation Fuel. The funds were to be used for customers who heated their homes through Yankee Gas or Connecticut Light and Power.
- Dollar Energy Fund reported on its website that, across the 11 states it serves , over 39,500 grants had been provided, with an average grant amount around $275. The average monthly income of each grant recipient was only $964 per month.
Sources: NJ Shares, Energy Outreach Colorado, Operation Fuel, and Dollar Energy Fund