TOPEKA – A perfect storm of cold weather and expensive energy costs is headed to Kansas households heating bills this winter.
National gas costs are projected to rise by 30 percent while energy costs are expected to be six percent higher, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Kansas Corporation Commission. They explain that high natural gas and energy usage from Winter Storm Uri in February 2021, high demands on natural gas from heat waves this summer, energy shortages in Europe and Asia, and declining domestic production, all combined will cause energy and natural gas costs to be higher than normal this winter.
“This strain on already stressed family financial situations is cause for concern,” said DCF Secretary Laura Howard. “The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) is ready to assist Kansans with the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP).”
LIEAP provides an annual benefit to help qualifying households pay winter heating bills. Persons with disabilities, older adults and families with children are the primary groups assisted. Applications for the program will be accepted beginning Monday, Jan. 3. In 2021, 38,750 households received an average benefit of $1,389, an increase from 2020 when about 34,000 households received an average benefit of $960.
To qualify, applicants must be responsible for direct payment of their heating bills. Income eligibility requirements are set at 150 percent of the federal poverty level. The level of benefit varies according to household income, number of people living in the home, type of residence, type of heating fuel and utility rates.
Applicants need to have made payments on their heating bill two out of the last three months. Those payments must be equal to or exceed $80 or the total balance due on their energy bills, whichever is less.
Applications for the program have been mailed to households that received energy assistance last year. LIEAP applications are also available at local DCF offices and through partnering agencies starting Jan. 3. They can be requested by calling 1-800-432-0043. To apply online, visit https://cssp.kees.ks.gov/apspssp/sspNonMed.portal. For more information, visit http://www.dcf.ks.gov/services/ees/Pages/EnergyAssistance.aspx.
Applications will be accepted from Jan. 3 to 5 p.m. March 31.