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The National Energy and Utility Affordability Conference set a new record for attendance with 703 people taking part in the three day event. Attendance for the conference, held in San Diego June 10 – 12, topped the previous record which was set in 2008. Registration figures for the conference, which is co-presented by the National Fuel Funds Network and the National Low Income Energy Consortium, showed that the 2013 conference drew the largest number of participants in the six-year history of the event.
The conference featured workshops, panel discussions, and speakers dealing with the problems of providing affordably home energy for low income households. The NEUAC is the largest gathering of professionals involved in issues relating to providing affordable utilities for low income households.
Two keynote speakers at the conference provided diverse perspectives on energy assistance. Doug Luffenborough, talked of his personal experience with energy assistance. Luffenborough, author of “From Homeless to Harvard” experienced homelessness and poverty as a child but overcame these hurdles to graduate from Harvard. He told the audience that his family had received energy assistance when he was growing up.
The second speaker was Jeannie Chaffin, director of the Office of Community Services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the federal agency which oversees the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Chaffin gave a personal account of having been a student intern who worked with families in need of assistance with energy bills.
She discussed several issues concerning LIHEAP including the recent release of the last available funds for the program in Fiscal Year 2013 and the plan to collect more data from the states on the performance of the program. The Department of Health and Human Services intends to collect more data on the impact of LIHEAP in reducing recipients’ energy burden, in preventing home energy crisis, and restoring home energy, Chaffin said.
NEUAC featured more than 48 workshops, panel discussions, and plenary sessions on topics ranging from effective fundraising to improving client services, energy efficiency and weatherization to policy issues.
While the conferees spent most of their time involved in the workshops and taking advantage of networking opportunities, there were also chances to unwind and make new friends. On the second night, more than 300 conferees attended “NEUAC Night at the Ballpark” to see the San Diego Padres play the Atlanta Braves.
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Major support for NEUAC 2013 provided by: