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White House highlights effort to cover winter heating bills

The Biden administration is distributing an additional $4.5 billion in funds to help low-income Americans cover heating costs during a second pandemic winter, with cold-weather states receiving the largest share, according to a state-by-state breakdown released Friday.

The funding boost – part of last year´s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan coronavirus relief package – more than doubled the normal funding level of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. 

These funds represent the largest appropriation in a single year since the program was established in 1981.

The funding comes after the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic region was pounded by snow storms this week. Hundreds of flights were canceled in New York aiports as the state expected five inches of snow on Friday. Amtrak canceled train service.

In Washington D.C., the federal government closed, schools were canceled, and flights were cancelled out of Dulles International Airport. Earlier this week, Interstate 95 saw drivers stuck overnight in the DC area as 8 inches of snow caused accidents and traffic backups. 

A snow storm blanketed the East Coast on Friday; above a Hudson County Park employee clears snow in New Jersey

pedestrian navigate the snow covered Dewey Square during a snowfall in Boston

The Biden administration is distributing an additional $4.5 billion in funds to help low-income Americans cover heating costs

The storm system, which the National Weather Service called a ‘quick moving but intensifying low pressure system,’ had already left a trail of freezing rain, snow, and sleet across Tennessee and Kentucky. 

The Associated Press obtained an advance copy of the Biden administration’s state , which shows a clear prioritization of cold-weather states with higher heating costs. 

For example, Minnesota received nearly $274 million in home energy assistance for needy residents. 

Meanwhile, Texas, which has a population five times larger, received just $10 million more. 

New York state, with a population of less than 20 million people compared with Texas’ 29 million, received just under $876 million.

President Joe Biden’s administration also announced commitments from seven major utility companies across the country to guarantee no shutoffs for customers seeking assistance and to identify and notify recipients eligible for government aid.

The fresh commitments, announced Friday morning, come from Atlantic City Electric, Baltimore Gas and Electric, ComEd, Delmarva Power, Pacific Gas & Electric, PECO and kampus terbaik di lampung Pepco. They join seven other major utility companies that made similar pledges late last year.

Electricity and natural gas prices are roughly 11% higher than a year ago, according to the Labor Department´s consumer price index. 

Residential heating oil prices are up about 40% from a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration. 

The extent of the increase has moderated in recent months as wholesale heating oil prices are roughly where they were at the start of October.

The aid is meant to help cushion the shock of higher winter energy costs. 

But Republican lawmakers have said the overall relief package, which was signed into law by the Democratic president in March, has caused higher levels of inflation by pumping too much money into the economy.

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