WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration said Wednesday it would make $4.5 billion available through a low-income home energy assistance program to help lower heating costs heading into what is expected to be a brutal winter.
The money, which comes partly from President Joe Biden’s economic rescue plan, will go to heating and utility bill costs, and can be used to help families make home energy repairs, the White House said.
The announcement comes in the waning days before the Nov. 8 election. Democrats are trying to contrast their efforts to help middle and low-income people through Biden’s major infrastructure deal and other legislative measures with Republican suggestions they would use the debt limit as leverage for cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits and other federal programs.
Across the country, families are looking to the winter with dread as energy costs soar and fuel supplies tighten.
The Department of Energy is projecting sharp price increases for home heating compared with last winter. Some worry that heating assistance programs will not be able to make up the difference for struggling families. The situation is even bleaker in Europe, with Russia’s continued curtailment of natural gas pushing prices upward and causing painful shortages.
The Energy Department will allocate $9 billion for states and tribes for a rebate program aimed at supporting energy upgrades to 1.6 million households over the next 10 years, the White House said. Homes will be better protected against the weather and some 500,000 new heat pumps will be installed.