The1st meeting of the Special Subcommittee on Energy was held on Friday, June 19, 2009, at<MeetTime> 2:30 PM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Rick G. Nelson, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Representative Rick G. Nelson, Co-Chair; Senator Walter Blevins Jr.; Representatives Royce W. Adams, Eddie Ballard, Dwight D. Butler, Leslie Combs, Jim Gooch Jr., Keith Hall, Lonnie Napier, Fred Nesler, Sannie Overly, Tanya Pullin, and Brent Yonts.
LRC Staff:† D. Todd Littlefield, CSA, Taylor Moore, and Susan Spoonamore, Committee Assistant.
Rep. Nelson introduced Virginia Carrington, Manager, Department for Community Based Services, Policy Development and Oversight Branch, Division of Family Support.
Ms. Carrington explained the stateís Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Annual Plan for FFY 2010.† LIHEAP is a block grant to assist low-income individuals and families with their heating and cooling costs and energy conservation measures.
Ms. Carrington stated that the Department will be applying for approximately $26.6 million for the 2010 FFY.† This award could be larger because Congress has yet to vote on a federal appropriations bill for this program.† She said that ninety percent (90%) of the award is used for benefits for eligible Kentucky citizens; one percent (1%) is retained for the Preventative Assistance Program; and $30,000 is available to design and initiate leveraging activities.† She said that agencies often retain a small percentage (up to 5%) of their individual allocations to promote household self-sufficiency, which would include budgeting classes, assistance with energy vendors and utility budget plans.† She stated that less than (10%) of the award is used for administrative costs.
Through LIHEAP, the Department for Community Based Services contracts with Community Action of Kentucky (CAK) to provide administrative support, training, monitoring, and technical assistance to the front-line service delivery system. She said that CAK sub-contracts with the 23 agencies of Kentuckyís Community Action Network for frontline service delivery, serving all of Kentuckyís 120 counties.
Ms. Carrington said the LIHEAP serves households whose incomes do not exceed 130% of the Federal Poverty Level. She said that assets cannot exceed $3,000 if a person in the household is aged 60 or older or disabled; or $4,000 if a household member has a catastrophic illness.
Ms. Carrington said that LIHEAP offers two types of benefits, subsidy and crisis components; and the Department can do a summer cooling program if enhanced funding is available.
Ms. Carrington stated that the estimated expenditure for last fiscal year ending March 31, 2009 is $75.6 million. †This includes a large, one-time increase in federal funds above what the Program has historically received.† She said that LIHEAP served 119,293 households under the subsidy component and 179,886 households were served under the crisis component.
She explained that the projections for FY2010 would total approximately $26.6 million which is in line with what congress has historically approximated for LIHEAP.† It is anticipated that the Program will serve around 125,000 to 175,000 people next year.
Rep. Pullin asked if free window air-conditioners would be available this year.
††††††††††† Ms. Carrington stated that if funds are available through the summer cooling program, then the Program can provide air-conditioners and fans.† Community Action agencies that use different funding streams can make air-conditioners and fans available.
††††††††††† Rep. Hall asked if LIHEAP serves people whose income is above 74% of the federal poverty level.
††††††††††† Ms. Carrington stated that the amount of co-pay they would have to pay is determined by household income. Households up to 130% of the Federal Poverty Level are eligible.
††††††††††† Rep. Hall asked if surrounding states used the 130% Federal Poverty Level threshold and whether it is a federal or state guideline.
††††††††††† Ms. Carrington said she was not aware of what other states were using, but she would get the information.
††††††††††† Rep. Hall asked if he was correct in saying that the applications have increased over 50%, but the monetary payout has doubled, and if that related to higher energy costs.
††††††††††† Ms. Carrington stated that the Program increased benefits and some of it is related to increased energy costs.
††††††††††† Rep. Hall asked if funding for the Program was all federal or some state funding.
††††††††††† Ms. Carrington stated that all funding is federal.
††††††††††† Rep. Adams stated that if fuel prices continue to rise, vendors cannot continue to deliver small quantities of fuel to LIHEAP recipients.† He asked if there was anything that could be done to help the vendors who supply fuel by trucks.
††††††††††† Rep. Nelson asked if money could be allocated to help some of the vendors.
††††††††††† Ms. Carrington stated that the Department did some research on the problem last year. She said that they could create some proposals that could be presented to the Commissioner and the Secretary.
††††††††††† Rep. Napier asked for an explanation of the $400 increase in benefits.
††††††††††† Ms. Carrington said that through the crisis component, a client would be able to receive up to $400 which would be used for those with a shut-off notice or eviction notice if a portion of the rent included utilities.†
††††††††††† Rep. Napier asked if the vendor could charge a delivery fee through the program.
††††††††††† Ms. Carrington stated that she would have to research that proposal to see if it would be allowable under the federal guidelines.
††††††††††† Rep. Nelson asked that the Department come back to the committee in the next couple of months to address the issues raised today.††
††††††††††† Rep. Napier asked if the federal dollars for the programs came directly to the Department or to the Governor.
††††††††††† Ms. Carrington stated that the funds come through the Governorís Office.
††††††††††† Rep. Napier stated that the Committee needs to talk to the officials in the Governorís Office.
††††††††††† Rep. Nelson introduced Dan McKenzie, Energy Director, Community Action of Kentucky (CAK).† He stated that approximately 700,000 Kentuckians benefitted from LIHEAP last year. †He said that they received 56,000 new applications.† LIHEAP is a life saving network that is essential to keeping people alive and in their homes.†
††††††††††† Upon voice vote, the LIHEAP Block Grant Application, Proposed Findings of Fact, was approved.
††††††††††† Meeting adjourned at 2:55 p.m.