While recognizing the need to make cuts to spending, the Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners have a message for Congress: Don’t balance your budget on the backs of the elderly, low-income and disabled.
On Monday, the Commissioners approved a resolution recognizing the value the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and urging Congress to continue and increase their financial support. The program, which provides financial assistance for home energy bills to low-income utility customers, has been targeted for elimination in 2018 by the Trump administration.
“It really makes no sense to try to control spending by cutting a program that helps our most vulnerable customers keep their lights on and their homes warm,” said Commission President Arie Callaghan. “In the long run, LIHEAP spending is just a drop in the bucket of the federal budget, but in Grays Harbor the money and support it provides touches hundreds of lives.”
In the last three years, 2741 Grays Harbor PUD customers have benefitted from LIHEAP program dollars, with 986 receiving nearly a half-million in support in 2016 alone.
“We are talking about a county that is still recovering from the impacts of the 2008 recession and downturn in the logging industry,” said Callaghan. “Eliminating a program that helps people stay warm is just adding to an already heavy burden.”
In addition to recognizing the value of LIHEAP, the resolution also allows the PUD to add its name to a letter launched by the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition. The letter urges Congress to protect and increase LIHEAP funding.