(The Center Square) — Low-income New Hampshire residents could qualify for state financial assistance to help offset energy costs, which are expected to rise next month.
In a request to the Executive Council, the State Department of Energy is asking to provide a one-time $405 rebate to thousands of low-income residents who receive state assistance through the home energy assistance for low-income households in the state.
Money for the rebates, which will cost nearly $1 million, will come from the state’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds allocated for fuel assistance.
The Department of Energy said the move was to provide relief to residents who are expected to incur higher energy bills next month and to use additional federal funds for energy assistance the state received from the law. ARPA.
“These funds will be used to reduce or eliminate any existing arrears, reduce or eliminate the next electricity bill, and if there are any funds left in the form of a credit on their electricity account to use against future bills,” wrote Energy Commissioner Jared Chicoine in the request.
Despite an increase in benefits of more than 60%, there are more than $8.8 million in remaining grant funds that will have to be returned to the federal government if not allocated by the September 30 deadline, said Chiccoine.
Under the LIHEAP program, New Hampshire residents who earn 60% of the state’s median income are eligible for assistance to pay for fuel, electrical, and weather protection upgrades.
A person earning $38,969 or less is eligible for assistance, while the maximum income level for a family of four is $74,941 a year, according to the ministry.
With inflation at a 40-year high, energy companies across the country are warning consumers will see significantly higher electricity bills this summer. Ongoing supply chain issues and Russia’s protracted war in Ukraine have disrupted global energy markets, driving up natural gas prices.
New Hampshire’s energy prices are among the highest in the country, with the average resident spending $4,078 a year, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Low-income and minority communities are disproportionately affected by higher energy costs, the federal agency said.
Next month, the cost of electricity in New Hampshire is expected to soar by at least 50%, which will increase the pressure on energy consumers.
The Executive Board is expected to accept the Department of Energy’s request to issue the rebates at its meeting on Wednesday.