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CT lawmakers approve $17 million for winter heating assistance programs

Opening session of the Legislature at the State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut
Jessica Hill
/
AP
Opening session of the Legislature at the State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut

The Connecticut General Assembly has passed an emergency bill to spend $17 million on the state’s federally funded winter heating assistance programs.

The state had $85 million in federal low-income energy assistance funds this winter. That’s much less than the $110 million it received from the federal government last year.

“Federal funding has returned to pre-pandemic levels but the need out there has not,” said Senator Matt Lesser, co-chair of the Human Services Committee.

“There are families out there who are trying to get through the entire winter on only $180 of heating assistance. It is 21 degrees in Hartford today. $180 just does not go very far in terms of buying heating oil,” he said.

The supplemental money approved by lawmakers comes from the state's share of American Rescue Plan Act funding.

About $10 million will go to the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program, the state’s primary winter heating program. Another $3.5 will go to Operation Fuel, an East Hartford-based nonprofit.

There are more than 70,000 Connecticut households approved for heating assistance this winter.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.