HELENA — The State announced Thursday additional funding to expand energy assistance from the CARES Act.
The $5 million in federal funding will be used to provide supplemental assistance to Low Income Energy Assistance Program(LIEAP) recipients, and create a new Emergency COVID-19 Energy Assistance program to help Montanans who are not current LIEAP recipients.
The new Emergency COVID-19 Energy Assistance program uses a one-month income look back to assist those whose work situation has changed due to the pandemic.
“Montana families shouldn’t have to choose between putting food on the table and paying their utility bill,” Governor Steve Bullock said. “This funding is critical to keeping families afloat and will give peace of mind to thousands of current LIEAP clients, and to thousands more Montanans who will now be eligible for the program.”
Eligibility for LIEAP and the emergency energy assistance program is based on household income and resource limits. For example, a family of four with monthly household income of $4,046.00 would be eligible. For new clients, unemployment and/or documented proof of loss of wages related to COVID-19 may also be used to determine eligibility.
DPHHS Intergovernmental Human Services Bureau Chief Sara Lowen strongly encouraged anyone who is income eligible to apply to help ease some of the financial burden.
“Often times we hear of customers or participants that have to make that choice between paying their energy bill or buying food, or paying other costs that are associated,” said Lowen. “With the current moratorium to not allow shut-offs, we’re anticipating many people have chosen to only pay a portion of their bill. These programs under LIEAP are designed to help fill that gap.”
Households that are already LIEAP recipients will automatically receive the supplemental assistance, which will be applied toward their electric bill.
Individuals who are not current LIEAP clients can apply for the new Emergency COVID-19 Energy Assistance program by contacting their local LIEAP office. Individuals can also call the toll-free LIEAP number at 1-833-317-1080. Applications are available now for both homeowners and renters.