By Christian Wade | The Center Square
New Hampshire is offering financial assistance to low-income residents to help keep their homes cooled during the summer months.
The state Department of Energy is planning to provide $7.5 million in assistance through the New Hampshire Fuel Assistance Program for pre-qualified low-income households for the first time to help residents dealing with higher energy costs.
Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, said energy costs are skyrocketing, putting the squeeze on many low-income energy consumers. He blamed “unprecedented Washington spending that has unleashed record inflation, uncertainty in the energy market following President Biden’s anti-domestic energy policies, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.”
“While there is not much that states can do to rebuff federal inaction, we are doing what we can at the state level to ease the burden on low-income families,” Sununu said in a statement.
The New Hampshire Fuel Assistance Program provides grants to income-qualifying households to assist with home heating costs. This would be the first time the state plans to provide the fuel assistance funding to offset summer electricity costs.
Details about the assistance, such as how much aid each household will receive, will be released in coming weeks, according to the Sununu administration.
The benefit amounts for qualifying households will be determined based on a wide variety of factors including income, household size, housing type and the fuel source.
As inflation reaches a 40-year high, energy companies around the country are warning that consumers will see significantly higher electric bills this summer. Ongoing supply chain issues and Russia’s war in Ukraine have disrupted global energy markets, driving prices for natural gas higher.
Overall, the average American home saw its electric bill jump 4% in February compared to a year ago, according to the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Jared Chicoine, commissioner of the state Department of Energy, said the added financial assistance “will help provide some relief to consumers in these challenging times.”
New Hampshire’s fuel assistance program is funded by the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program serves households making up to 60% of the state’s median income figure, according to the state.