Energy Assistance On The Front Burner in Baltimore
June 22, 2015
Contact: Monique Lovato
For Immediate Release
600 national energy assistance leaders gather June 22-24
Baltimore, MD – The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC) annual conference is meeting this week in Baltimore to highlight the challenges of vulnerable households across the U.S. who struggle to afford home energy.
Late last week the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) voted to fund the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) at $3.365 billion for fiscal year 2016, which represents a minor reduction from the 2015 level.
“LIHEAP funding is now just two thirds of its 2010 level of $5.1 billion. This is a program that has been severely eroded in its ability to provide a critical safety net for seniors, veterans, children, the working poor and increasingly middle income households,” said John Rich, NEUAC’s president. Rich added, “Only one in five eligible households is being helped by LIHEAP. We are requesting funding at $4.7 billion to make a dent in the unmet need.”
NEUAC advocates are in Baltimore this week to share best practices from around the nation about how best to leverage LIHEAP funding, advocate better on a local, regional and national level and to hear from Federal officials on a variety of topics. In addition, conference attendees will be inspired by local speakers, such as Dr. Mark Bergel of the Washington, D.C. nonprofit, A Wider Circle, and Pepco Holdings, Inc. utility executive Ken Parker, who will share his personal story of overcoming adversity to lead Pepco Holding’s corporate citizenship and government affairs divisions.
“We are thrilled to be in Baltimore where our work makes a difference through the leadership of local partners such as BG&E and the Fuel Fund of Maryland that help people every day to afford home energy. BG&E is our host utility and conference sponsor and Pepco Holdings as a supporting sponsor have made this gathering possible, “noted Monique Lovato, executive director of NEUAC.
NEUAC’s most prestigious public service award, named for Sister Pat Kelley, founder of the national energy assistance effort, which began in 1980, will be given to Mary Ellen Vanni, the retiring executive director of the Fuel Fund of Maryland, the nation’s first independent state fuel fund.
“Sister Pat Kelley’s story has inspired me daily. I am humbled to receive this award here in Baltimore, among 600 of the country’s most devoted LIHEAP advocates. Our frayed safety net cries out for affordable home energy for all,” said Mary Ellen Vanni.
About NEUAC: The Coalition is national, broad-based and diverse. Its mission is to heighten awareness of the energy needs of low- and moderate income Americans. NEUAC members are working to reduce the energy burden of vulnerable households through advocacy, policy improvements and partnerships.