PACE is always seeking new avenues and alliances that will strengthen our ongoing mission of highlighting consumers’ interests in reliable and affordable energy. We’ve made a lot of new friends this past year. However, we are particularly excited about a new relationship with the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC). PACE officially joined NEUAC last week and is looking forward to diving in on various committees and learning from the expert leaders and volunteers who created NEUAC to strengthen efforts to help energy consumers in need.
As a short introduction, NEUAC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that “brings together a broad-based coalition of diverse member organizations and individuals dedicated to heightening awareness of the energy needs of low income energy consumers.” From its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, but working with member organizations across the country, NEUAC expends energy and effort to:
The coalition has also greatly boosted the advocacy voice for the federal LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program), which is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. LIHEAP and the millions of citizens it helps each year depend on annual congressional appropriations.
How does LIHEAP work? The federal government provides block grants from appropriated funds to states. States then work with organizations including utilities and community support/service groups to make sure that funds are distributed to those in need through approved channels. The federal government requires that grantees target benefits to households with low incomes, adhere to income eligibility definitions, and focus on those households with the greatest home energy needs, taking into consideration age, disability, number of residents, and household income.
NEUAC members regularly meet with Members of Congress and other stakeholders to explain why LIHEAP is a critical program that helps vulnerable citizens afford energy services in hard times. PACE looks forward to joining other NEUAC members and leaders on letters, rallies and congressional visits that educate lawmakers and staff about the importance LIHEAP funding plays in keeping vulnerable consumers supplied with energy. As expressed by NEUAC earlier this year: