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Louisville offering utility assistance for winter heating, wastewater bills

Snow blankets a park in Louisville.
Ryan Van Velzer
A snowy day in Louisville

Cold temperatures and rising energy prices are expected to contribute to higher home heating costs this winter, but Louisville Metro is offering relief to families in need.

The city’s Office of Resilience and Community Services is now accepting appointments for its annual fall Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP. That through December 16, or until the funding runs out.

“The need is, I believe, greater now than it’s ever been. The bills that we are seeing now are higher than we’ve ever seen,” said LIHEAP Supervisor Brandon O’Neal.

Nationally, home heating costs have increased more than 17% since last winter while approximately one in six households are behind on payments, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association.

Locally, O’Neal said the Office of Resilience has seen ratepayers with electricity bills as high as $2,500 as a result of compounding past due payments amid the pandemic.

LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps people in Jefferson County who are at or below 130% of federal poverty guidelines, which is a monthly income of about $3,000 for a four-person household. Eligible Jefferson County residents will receive a one-time subsidy approximately between $50 and $200 to help cover the costs of utility bills, regardless of their payment status.

To apply, residents need to set up an appointmentwith the Office of Resilience, and bring the following:

  • proof of household income from the preceding month
  • a Social Security card or permanent residence card for those applying
  • their current heating bill

Around 8,000 people have already signed up for the program this season, O’Neal said.

“It’s super simple. To sign up for the program, I always encourage people to check back on Thursdays. If they call in on the appointment line and they can’t get through, check back on Thursday mornings,” he said.

Louisville residents also have the opportunity to sign up for the Metropolitan Sewer District’s Emergency Wastewater Rate Assistance program at the Office of Resilience. That program helps eligible residents cover up to 30% of the cost of their wastewater bill, O’Neal said.

For that program, eligible households need to be within 150% of federal poverty guidelines, which is a monthly income of about $3,500 per month for a family of four.

“Now it’s a central location for our customers and clients to come in to a one-stop shop model,” O’Neal said.

Another way for Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities customers to help to keep their bills down this winter is through the utility’s WeCare program, which helps customers save money on their bills through improving their home’s energy efficiency and weather-resistance.

Participants receive a walkthrough analysis to help them find ways to save, including using LED light bulbs, high-efficiency showerheads, air sealing and attic insulation. To be eligible, LG&E and KU customers can sign up here, and must have nine months continuous service and have a maximum monthly income of about $4,500 for a family of four.

Ryan Van Velzer is the Kentucky Public Radio Managing Editor. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.