NEUAC, the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance, Utilities, Activists & Advocates Show Storm of LIHEAP Support on Capitol Hill
Writing and Reporting by Jake Brown
The Nor’Easter that slammed New England was a fitting reminder for why LIHEAP Action Day is a critical day for LIHEAP. Each year, advocates from around the nation gather on Capitol Hill in a unified effort to lobby their respective Congressional delegations about the importance of LIHEAP.
Missouri Senior U.S. Senator was spotlighted as the recipient of the Extra Mile Award, an award issued by the National Energy & Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC) each year at LIHEAP Action Day. St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson congratulated Senator Blunt in an op-ed for being “an ardent supporter of LIHEAP… Senator Blunt demonstrates his acute awareness of the necessity of this program by continuously supporting LIHEAP year-after-year… To have an advocate like Senator Blunt fighting for this program and these individuals is something our city, and communities across Missouri and the nation, should not take for granted. With the current administration’s twice proposing to eliminate LIHEAP, Senator Blunt’s advocacy is essential.”
As utilities, coalitions and advocates from around the country spread out on Capitol Hill, they sang the round praises of this essential program. Patty Riddlebarger, director of corporate social responsibility for Entergy Corporation, told the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance exclusively that “for the approximately 25 percent of Entergy customers who live in poverty, LIHEAP can literally be a lifesaver, as increasingly severe temperatures threaten their health and welfare. Entergy representatives and local community advocates participate in LIHEAP Action Days to encourage better funding of the program from our congressional representatives, so more local residents can live safely and comfortably.”
While making their Congressional rounds with Senators from the states they represent, Entergy took to social media to thank “the staff of @SenTomCotton for sitting down with our team to discuss #LIHEAP! In 2017, the program provided nearly 76K households in #Arkansas with more than $11M in energy assistance.”
Representatives from Louisiana issued similar appreciation that Senator “@BillCassidy had time to talk #LIHEAP with our team. In 2017, the program provided almost 59K households in #Louisiana with $17M in energy assistance.” Singling out the recipients who benefit from these members’ continued support of LIHEAP funding, Entergy Mississippi made the powerful point that “LIHEAP helped change the lives of veteran Shannon Thomas and single-mom Javone Hartfield,” while adding a special additional thanks to “@SenatorWicker for making time to meet with our team!”
Down in the Southwest, Entergy Texas broadcast a “big thank you to the staff of @RepBrianBabin for making time to meet with us about #LIHEAP! In 2017, the program provided nearly 42K of our customers in #Texas with more than $5M in energy assistance."
The East Coast had its coalition of champions out in full force. Columbia Gas of Massachusetts noted of the 315,000 households they serve throughout the state – that “our employees are always looking for ways to improve their lives. Today we recognize LIHEAP Action Day, by raising awareness among our customers, employees and our key stakeholders of the impact that LIHEAP has on our most vulnerable customers."
Michigan’s advocacy block came out strong, with heavyweights like the Dollar Energy Fund proudly announcing their alliance “with @theNEUAC on #LIHEAPAction Day! Increased funding for #LIHEAP is essential to support our most vulnerable neighbors.”
Longtime energy assistance advocate Keep Michigan Warm paid a visit on a member of the state’s Congressional delegation, thanking “Rep. @JackBergman_MI1 for taking time to meet with us to discuss an important issue to low income Michigan residents energy assistance,” while EcoWorks hammered home the difference LIHEAP truly makes for tens of thousands of residents around the state with their declaration that “Federal home heating/cooling assistance SAVES MICHIGAN LIVES! We are working today to urge Congress to protect and grow LIHEAP funding for 2019.”
Minnesota Power sent the same message, taking to social media to encourage readers to retweet “if you agree that Congress should #SaveLIHEAP to help provide short-term energy assistance to neighbors in need.”
Columbia Gas of Ohio rounded out the chorus with their thanks to “@theNEUAC and all those in DC this week that are here to speak up on behalf of #LIHEAP funding. This program helps Ohio families and may others save hundreds of dollars each year.”