PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Mike Rounds announced that South Dakota will receive $25,577,750 in federal funds for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program this year, an increase of more than $11.8 million from last year.
“The additional funds will ensure the South Dakota Low-Income Energy Assistance Program can support eligible applicants through the upcoming heating season,” said Gov. Rounds. “This will be a huge relief for South Dakotans who might have struggled to heat their homes this winter.”
As a result of a continuing resolution signed by President Bush, a total of $5 billion has been provided to the federal Low-Income Household Energy Assistance Program. Of that, more than $25 million has been appropriated to SD LIEAP.
The program assists low-income families in South Dakota with their heating bills, by paying grant money directly to the energy provider or utility company. LIEAP serves households at or below 160 percent of the federal poverty level.
“LIEAP significantly reduces energy costs for South Dakota consumers who may otherwise have to choose between heating their homes or buying groceries and other essentials,” said Deb Bowman, Secretary of the Department of Social Services. “The additional funding will go a long way toward keeping South Dakota families safe and warm.”
South Dakota currently dispenses LIEAP funds based on applicants’ income, fuel type and region. Due to the increase in federal funding, the South Dakota Department of Social Services has recommended an increase in benefit levels to households based on the type of fuel they use.
LIEAP household benefits will increase by 10 percent for electric, 50 percent for natural gas, and 75 percent for fuel oil or propane. The increases are based on projected heating costs for the 2008-09 heating season. The Department of Social Services is in the process of notifying accepted applicants of the benefit increase.
In addition to the funding increase for the State, tribal entities will receive $6,741,722 for FFY09, which is an increase of $3,775,760 from FFY08.
For more information on LIEAP, including eligibility requirements, visit www.dss.sd.gov/energyassistance or contact Communications Director Tarah Jahnig at 605-773-3165.