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Governor McKee Unveils New Website for Connecting Rhode Islanders to State Energy Assistance Programs

WARWICK, RI – Governor Dan McKee, joined by the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) and Department of Human Services (DHS), today announced the launch of a new website providing a one-stop resource for all publicly available state, federal and nonprofit energy assistance programs and funding for the upcoming winter season, free home energy assessments for homeowners and renters to reduce their energy usage. The Governor also announced an additional $1.5 million in funding to provide relief on electric utility bills for most vulnerable Rhode Islanders, bringing the total relief committed to $5.3 million.

The new website, EnergySupport.ri.gov, includes a simple, clear list of state, federal and nonprofit energy assistance resources for Rhode Islanders. Specifically, it highlights financial awards to help pay for heating and electric bills including: the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Good Neighbor Energy Fund, Keep the Heat On, Free Home Energy Assessment Program, Weatherization Assistance Program, Heating System Repair and Replacement Program.

"During this season of unprecedented electricity and heating costs, it is essential that we do everything we can to connect Rhode Islanders with available assistance programs that can help them keep the heat on this winter. Finding assistance should be simple and straightforward —that is our goal with this one-stop shop website," said Governor Dan McKee. "I am also announcing today we will be providing an additional $1.5 million in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) funds for direct rate relief to help reduce our most vulnerable constituent's electricity customers' bills further. We have now committed $5.3 million to help our most vulnerable constituents with their electricity bills this winter and we will continue our efforts to deliver further relief to all Rhode Islanders."

"While we are often focused on getting rate relief help to our most vulnerable constituents, it is important for all constituents to be aware of the programs available to them," said Interim State Energy Commissioner Chris Kearns. "For example, I recommend homeowners and renters sign up for a free home energy assessment in which an energy specialist will assess their current energy usage and identify potential opportunities to weatherize their home or apartment, and take advantage of money saving incentives through the state's annual energy efficiency programs. All this and more may found at energysupport.ri.gov."

"We know this time of year can be cause for concern for many Rhode Islanders as the chill of fall and cold of winter begins to take hold," said Kimberly Merolla-Brito, Acting Director, RI DHS. "It is imperative that we help educate and inform our residents on the many opportunities that exist for State energy assistance. It is my hope the information provided today and through this new website will prove to be a useful tool to help ease the burden many face, especially in the months ahead."

This year, LIHEAP has $32 million available for qualified Rhode Island residents, as well as $1.5 million for weatherization assistance. Depending upon a family's income, a household heating with oil or other deliverable fuel could receive from $981 to $1,285 in federal funding assistance. Qualified customers heating with gas could receive from $805 to $970; those heating with electricity could receive from $983 to $1,230.

The Governor and his Administration continue to take action to address rising energy costs and provide relief to all Rhode Islanders:

- In August, Governor McKee directed $3.8 million in RGGI funds to provide direct rate relief to approximately 39,000 of the State's most vulnerable constituents. With today's additional announcement, the Governor's total relief commitment rises to $5.3 million. This will result in these 39,000 customers seeing an approximate $73 reduction in their electricity bills in December and January.

- At the Governor's request, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) directed $32 million in Attorney General settlement credits to be distributed back to ratepayers. The Governor has also requested that $17.5 million in Attorney General settlement funds be distributed back to ratepayers through their gas bills – this is currently pending before the PUC. As a result of these two actions, most low-income residents will not experience an increase in their overall electric bills when compared to last winter.

- At the Governor's request, the PUC recently deferred the customer charge on all electric bills for a six-month period, providing additional rate relief to residential and small businesses.

- Governor McKee will introduce legislation the first week of the 2023 legislative session to suspend the state's 4 percent gross receipt tax on electricity bills through the April 2023 utility billing period, which is the last month that winter electricity rates will be reflected in constituents' utility bills.

- The Governor's FY 2023 budget provides approximately $265 million in tax relief to offset costs for families, small businesses, veterans and seniors, including a Child Tax Rebate that delivers $250 per child to eligible families across the state.

- The McKee Administration is working with Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on the need to increase LIHEAP funding and ensure that all heating assistance fuel funds are allocated to DHS prior to the start of the winter season.

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