As everyone knows, this is going to be a very hard winter. Oil prices have driven heating oil prices up as they have gas prices. Even though prices have fallen lately, prices are still almost double last year's price. There is no magic bullet to making this better, but there is a lot of activity on this. Our congressional delegation is making a push to double federal assistance for the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This is the major federal program to help with heating in the winter and is the one that people go to the Community Action office to apply for. The Bush administration has not been helpful in increasing this program and some in Congress have tried to halt this increase as leverage for increased drilling rights for big oil in Alaska. I hope that our delegation is successful in getting more money for this program. I have been active in this area in the past. I have testified in Congress on this issue and have lead the Council of State Governments efforts to increase funding. It is very effective. Money is designated for each state and the money flows right through to those in need.
On the state level, we appropriated $10 million in our budget to supplement the federal efforts.
I have heard from a lot of people that are very nervous over their ability to heat their homes this winter. I have also heard from oil dealers who are paying for oil when they take delivery and then can't get paid by customers when they make home deliveries.
As I said, there is no easy answer or magic bullet to cure this problem, but there are a lot of services out there that can help. On September 3rd, I am bringing them together at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in North Adams for a forum to provide information to people concerned about heating this winter. Community Action (BCAC) has committed to the forum as has Citizen's Energy, the Oil Heat Association of Massachusetts, the Federal Department of Energy, the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), our local utilities, and the Center for Ecological Technology (CET) our local energy efficiency experts. We will have the Community Coalition participating and giving us advice on their new program for energy efficiency. We hope to have more people participating and are still awaiting answers from others. We have asked everyone to bring information and brochures detailing their programs.
I am hopeful that we will be able to let everyone know of all the local options for heating assistance and develop an action plan for our area. Aside from getting information to people, I would like to explore a pre-registration system for LIHEAP. I am hoping that we can pool our resources and begin to raise more money to supplement governmental efforts. I am also hoping that we can discuss creation of a local entity patterned after the Citizen's Energy model. I am also hoping that we can duplicate this effort in the Franklin County part of my district.
Below is the press release from my office on this. I hope that the word gets out and that we can get information to as many people as possible.
Bosley Announces Heating Fuel Assistance Forum
Chairman Daniel E. Bosley announced today the news of a forum on home heating assistance to take place Wednesday, September 3, 2008, at MCLA’s Church Street Center in North Adams. The event is scheduled to run from 5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. and will consist of several speakers from various government organizations and private companies that service the Northern Berkshire region.
“As fuel costs continue to rise and cause deep strain on family budgets across the northeast, this forum will serve to clarify the process for applying for assistance and to delineate the options each and every homeowner can take to reduce energy costs. Deadlines to apply to some programs are as early as the end of September and this event will be a great opportunity to think about winterization and the various application processes, said Bosley.”
The forum will have speakers from the respective fuel providers as well as from non-profit organizations such as the Berkshire Community Action Council, the Center for Ecological Technology, the Citizens Energy Corporation among others.
This event is open to public. If you wish to speak or provide information at a booth please register by Wednesday, August 27, 2008, by contacting Daniel Hunt via phone at (617) 722-2370 or email at Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org