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FY 2012 State Residential Energy Assistance Challenge Option Program

The Department of Health and Human Services made grant awards totaling $1,050,000 to three states under the Residential Energy Assistance Challenge Option Program (REACH) for FY 2012. Each state received $350,000.

Indiana
The Indiana Home Energy Management Program partnered with four community action agencies, the State health department, and six investor-owned utilities to target home energy management services to households that met the following criteria:

(1) a history of disconnection after the moratorium ends;
(2) homeowners of a single family or mobile home;
(3) primary heating/or cooling through specific vendors; and
(4) a member who is elderly, disabled, or a young child under six years old.

The program intended to help clients manage their monthly energy expenses and provide up to $150 per household for annual maintenance to the primary heating source. Four in-home visits were planned for each participant. Activities conducted during the visits included an energy assessment, one-on-one trainings, development of an energy action plan on how to maintain healthy and safe homes, and follow-up case management. Participants received up to $175 for minor home repairs to help improve clients’ ability to conserve energy. Low- and no-cost activities were used to help clients decrease usage, decrease costs, and decrease the household’s home energy burden.

Maryland
The project will created a one-stop approach to promote family self-sufficiency and home health and safety. By coordinating access to up to 53 separate financial, energy and housing benefits, the Baltimore REACH Program will created a streamlined gateway for families who would otherwise have to navigate multiple intake and application processes. Services targeted LIHEAP eligible households with high energy usage, defined as greater than 15,000 kilowatt hours of annual usage, to provide a wide range of family services, such as arrearage payment assistance. The program was coordinated by the Baltimore Community Action Partnership with the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and the Fuel Fund of Maryland. The program also offered weatherization services, such as conducting safety testing for furnaces and boilers, heating system replacement, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors installation.

Wisconsin
Wisconsin targeted assistance to 3,000 households in Racine County which saw a 77 percent increase in people living in poverty over the past five years. Assistance would help households avoid crisis situations and health and safety issues that result from having a high energy burden. The pilot used funds from utility contributions and the Wisconsin Public Benefits Fund, which is comprised of monies utilities collect for the State through electric utility ratepayer fees. These funds provided a financial incentive of up to $500 to households that paid their energy arrearages out of their Earned Income Tax Credit refund. Additionally, 35 percent of the REACH households were to receive energy efficient appliances (such as a refrigerator and/or freezer) in order to reduce energy costs. The program proposed to enroll 50 percent of those households in the We Energies “Early Identification Plan” which provides customers with manageable payment plan and arrearage forgiveness. Other services included budget counseling, case management and referrals to organizations which promote long-term economic stability, and energy conservation education on home heating and cooling.