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Missouri Receives New Energy Assistance Funding

Missouri is making use of about 30 million dollars in new federal funds for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

The 30 million dollars in federal funding will be split among 19 local community action agencies throughout the state.

Tommie Trammell is the LIHEAP Program Director for the Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation or OACAC.

OACAC serves a ten county region in Southwest Missouri.

Trammell says it's unclear how much of the 30 million dollars OACAC will receive...but part of the money will go toward providing supplemental support for qualifying families. The support will go to families with a head of household who is disabled or over the age of 65 and received energy assistance this past winter.

Part of the 30 million dollars that's being distributed statewide will go toward helping low income families weatherize their homes.

Trammell says weatherization helps lower utility bills.

While the high natural gas prices this winter prompted Missouri lawmakers to provide additional energy assistance funding, Trammell says the summer months also can be a difficult time for families trying to pay their utility bills.

The latest round of federal money includes some funds for a summer cooling program, which will enable community action agencies to purchase fans and air conditioning units.

Trammell says it's important for low income individuals and families to think about how they're going to stay cool in the summer, something that can be a matter of life or death.

Trammell says it's important for people to apply for help if they're struggling to pay their utility bill.

It doesn't cost anything to apply and Trammell says OACAC will be able to determine if you're eligible.

OACAC has neighborhood centers in ten Southwest Missouri counties. For information on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, call OACAC at 417-862-4314.