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NLIEC Principles & Resolutions


Supporting Funding for LIHEAP

Resolution to Support Adequate Funding for the
Low Income Energy  Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

WHEREAS, the National Low Income Energy Consortium (NLIEC) recognizes that adequate and affordable utility service is a necessity, key to the health and safety of all American households; and

WHEREAS, the Energy Information Agency (EIA) has forecasted a significant increase in energy prices for this upcoming winter foreshadowing a greater need for energy assistance; and

WHEREAS, an estimated 4.7 million households received LIHEAP assistance during  this past  winter representing less than one-quarter of the eligible population; and

WHEREAS, LIHEAP is a vital safety net program that helps fixed-income seniors and low-income families, especially those with young children and persons with disabilities afford their energy bills and use energy more efficiently; and

WHEREAS, current appropriation levels are insufficient to deal with existing need as evidenced in the 2004 NLIEC Missouri Energy Poverty Study and a nationwide study produced by the National Energy Assistance Directors Association; now therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Board of Directors of the National Low Income Energy Consortium (NLIEC) supports increased regular appropriations, and increased emergency appropriations, for the Low Income No Deposit Bonus With No Max Cashout Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Adopted November 4, 2005

Electric Industry Restructuring

To Protect Low Income Residents and Consumers
In the Restructuring of the Electric Industry

WHEREAS, federal and state legislators and regulatory commissions are considering or implementing proposals to restructure the electric utility industry to move from a regulated environment to a more market-oriented environment; and

WHEREAS, on average, low-income and fixed-income households pay a larger percentage of their incomes for electricity than any other customer class; and

WHEREAS, affordable housing, of which utility service is a vital component, is a necessity for the low-income community; and

WHEREAS, electric deregulation should occur only if essential consumer protections are in place; and

WHEREAS, consumer protections are particularly important for the most vulnerable members of our society, e.g., low-income persons, persons with disabilities, older persons, and those with limited English language capabilities; and

WHEREAS, consumer education is a key component to providing customers the opportunity to make informed choices; and

WHEREAS, further consumer protections are necessary to protect against any detriments of health and safety during periods of extreme (hot and cold) weather; and

WHEREAS, to carry out the objective of protecting low-income households, the specific policies articulated below must be implemented in concert with any program that restructures the electric industry;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Low Income Energy Consortium urges that any plan to restructure the electric industry include the following principles and components:

1. Low-income customers must have access to reliable electric service at affordable rates.

2. All customers must have the ability to obtain adequate, safe, reliable and efficient energy services at fair, reasonable and affordable prices.

3. Unfair cost shifting to residential customers should be prevented.

4. Effective participation by all consumers, including low-income consumers, in the electric industry restructuring debate is essential.

5. State electric restructuring legislation and regulation must include provisions and funding for comprehensive and ongoing consumer education, so consumers have the opportunity to make informed choices among providers and services. A portion of available funding should be allocated to organizations that have the greatest ability to communicate with the low-income community.

6. Electric industry restructuring legislation and regulation must include strong consumer protections against anti-competitive behavior, undue discrimination, poor service and unfair practices involving credit, billing and disconnections.

7. In addition to any rights or remedies that exist currently in the law for redress to the courts, electric industry restructuring legislation should grant jurisdiction to state regulatory agencies for the purposes of certifying electric energy providers and marketers, reviewing unfair trade and marketing practices; and addressing customer disputes, credit, billing and collection practices and customer service adequacy.

8. A competitively neutral, nondiscriminatory and nonbypassable system benefit charge among other mechanisms must be created to provide meaningful programs to assist eligible low-income customers to meet their energy needs, including assistance in energy payments and energy efficiency services. A system benefit charge should be used to supplement LIHEAP and the DOE Weatherization Program.

9. States should make meaningful effort to limit disproportionate environmental impacts of electric restructuring on low-income neighborhoods.

10. State government action must encourage and facilitate options such as aggregation to allow low-income customers to increase their individual purchasing power.

11. State government action must strongly encourage the continuance and further development of energy efficiency activities, including the availability of funds for energy-efficiency programs and research and development.

Adopted November 6, 1998

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