Less money, more demand for heat help expected
Because of funding shortages and anticipated need from more families, Pierce County economic support workers are warning clients to expect less home heating help this season.
The human services department takes applications for four types of heating and utility aid: heating assistance, electricity assistance available to some users, crisis assistance and furnace assistance.
The Wisconsin Division of Energy Services warned in September there will be a funding shortage for the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program, both because funding is limited and because WHEAP applications are expected to increase 50 to 70 percent.
Using "preliminary conservative estimates," workers are advising clients average household heating benefits will drop from $514 last season to $212 this season.
The average household electricity benefit, available locally to Xcel Energy customers, is expected to drop from $204 last season to $115 this season.
Both programs offer one-time payments during the heating season (Oct. 1 to May 15). The county takes applications, but the money is distributed by the state. Payments vary depending on household size, income and utility costs. In most cases, the benefit is paid directly to the household's energy supplier.
For more please read the Oct. 28 print version of the Herald.