GMP hopes to share some WARMTH’By Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | January 14,2013Albert J. Marro / Staff File Photo
Dennis Stocker of Johnson Energy makes a fuel delivery in January 2012. Green Mountain Power has taken over the Share Heat program formerly operated by Central Vermont Public Service Corp. and merged it with its own WARMTH program.For years, Central Vermont Public Service Corp. helped Vermonters in need with its Share Heat program, raising money for emergency fuel assistance.
Green Mountain Power Corp. has taken that program and merged it with its own WARMTH program to help families and individuals who have exhausted all other sources of fuel assistance.
GMP will match donations dollar for dollar up to $130,000.
That’s the combined matching total of both companies prior to last year’s merger of CVPS with GMP.
“It’s very similar to the Share Heat program,” said GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure. “As with Share Heat, the WARMTH funds are administered by the Community Action Agencies to help people in heating emergencies.”
The agencies include BROC, which covers Rutland and Bennington counties.
Prior to the merger of the two utilities, CVPS matched Share Heat donations up to $100,000. GMP matched donations up to $30,000.
Last year, the Share Heat program raised $73,460 in donations with CVPS kicking in its entire $100,000 match for a total of $173,460. GMP matched $30,000 in donations for a total of $60,000.
Company officials speculated that public donations dropped off last year in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene.
Schnure said another benefit of the program is that GMP picks up the tab for administrative costs of the community action agencies.
“The WARMTH program is set up so 100 percent of a customer’s donation goes to help families,” she said.
Richard Moffi, who administers the state’s Home Heating Fuel Assistance program, said he expects more Vermonters will seek help with their home heating bills this winter.
Moffi said he expects 28,200 households to receive fuel assistance this heating season, a 3 percent increase from last year.
Vermont’s federal LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) block grant this year is $19.5 million. The state contributed $8 million for a total of $27.5 million in fuel assistance funds. Moffi said the average benefit for the entire heating season is estimated at $900 per household.
The bulk of heating assistance goes to pay for fuel oil, propane and kerosene. A small amount goes to pay for firewood and wood pellets.
Moffi urged Vermonters in need to apply for seasonal fuel assistance before the end of February.
“So if clients are struggling or lost their job or maybe lost some hours, have cut backs in hours, this is the time to think about not only fuel assistance but our sister program, 3SquaresVt., the old food stamp program,” Moffi said
He said the income eligibility for both programs is the same — 185 percent of the federal poverty level or a maximum gross monthly income for a family of three of $2,944.
Information on the state’s fuel assistance program is available by calling (800) 479-6151.
There is also an Energy Assistance Program available for GMP’s low-income customers that is administered through the state. Residential customers with household income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for a 25 percent discount off their monthly electric bill on the first 600 kilowatt hours used.
Donations to the WARMTH program can be made by enclosing a check with the GMP monthly bill or can be mailed separately to WARMTH, c/o Green Mountain Power, 163 Acorn Lane, Colchester, Vt. 05446.
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