Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announced Wednesday an extension to apply for the state’s Fuel Assistance program to help households meet rising energy costs. The new deadline is December 1. The governor is also encouraging civic participation in a number of energy programs.
“Virginia households make economic sacrifices in a number of ways, but staying warm shouldn’t be among them,” says Kaine. “The Commonwealth is fortunate to have obtained additional federal funding to offset heating costs. Additionally, energy companies and organizations such as the AARP are providing easy avenues for all of us to pitch in, and I encourage people to help where they can.”
The federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program block grant funds the Commonwealth’s Energy Assistance Program, which is administered by the Virginia Department of Social Services. The Fuel Assistance application extension from November 14 to December 1 will allow more time for lower-income households and members of at-risk groups, including the elderly and persons with disabilities, to apply for Fuel assistance.
To qualify, a one-person household’s maximum gross monthly income cannot exceed $1,127. For a household of four, the maximum gross monthly income level is $2,297. Applicants must apply through their local department of social services. Last year, Virginia served more than 108,000 households.
Help is not limited to the state’s Energy Assistance Program. A number of energy programs allow people to apply for, and provide, assistance. Below is a list of some such options:
- AARP’s Project Energy Save mobilizes volunteers to help elderly neighbors and loved ones assess their home’s energy efficiency and perform simple weatherization tasks. Kaine is stressing the importance of individuals helping neighbors and loved ones prepare for the cold weather.
- American Electric Power “Neighbor-to-Neighbor” accepts donations as overpayments through regular bill pay or donations by check. Applications for assistance are accepted at local departments of social services.
- Dominion EnergyShare: Dominion electric customers are encouraged to add $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $25, or $35 to their amount due. Overpayments in these exact amounts are automatically recognized as a contribution and will be documented on the next bill. Applications for assistance are accepted through a number of EnergyShare agencies.
- Virginia Natural Gas and Washington Gas provide significant contributions to energy sharing programs in Eastern Virginia and the greater Washington area. These contributions provide the administrative funding to operate the assistance programs so that all private donations go directly to families in need.
- Home Energy Assistance Program: the state General Assembly created this fund for public and private donations. State tax filers can check off a donation box on their state income forms.
- Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development administers a Weatherization Assistance Program which provides direct installation of energy saving measures for eligible households.
These are just a few examples of programs that are being offered. Individuals are encouraged to check with their utility providers to determine the availability of similar programs. The programs mentioned have their own eligibility requirements and deadlines. December 1 applies to the VDSS Fuel Assistance Program only.