Governor Praises Expedited Low-Income and Energy Grants

Contact: Judy Palnau (517) 241-3323

February 27, 2003

Governor Jennifer Granholm today praised the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) for its expedited approval of grants totaling $20 million from the Low-Income and Energy Efficiency Fund. The grant awards were expedited because of the cold winter weather and increases in natural gas prices.

“The swift action taken by the Michigan Public Service Commission means much-needed assistance will be available to people who need help paying their energy bills at a time when temperatures are colder than normal,” said Governor Granholm. “My Administration will continue to take the necessary measures to address the needs of Michigan’s low-income population.”

MPSC Chairman Laura Chappelle added, “Instead of waiting until the fall to award these grants, the Commission continues to ensure that low-income people get needed assistance as soon as possible. Today’s grants will go to organizations that have proven track records in helping people as expeditiously as possible.”

On February 5, the Commission called for grant proposals to be submitted on or before February 19. Normally, the request for the submission of grant proposals would not take place until fall of this year.

The Low-Income and Energy Efficiency Fund, administered by the Commission, was authorized by the Customer Choice and Electricity Reliability Act of 2000. Its purpose is to provide shut-off and other protection for low-income customers and to promote energy efficiency by all customer classes. The fund results from securitization savings that exceeded the amount needed to achieve a 5 percent rate reduction for residential and business customers.

The Commission received proposals from six organizations with requests totaling more than $34 million. In awarding these grants, the Commission gave preference to organizations with a proven record in distributing energy assistance to low-income residents, an existing administrative structure to handle additional distribution activities, an ability to coordinate the assistance with other service providers, and a plan to serve multiple counties or populations with at least 500,000 people.

The order approves the following grants:

  • Family Independence Agency (FIA) – $17 million to expand the State Emergency Relief Fund
  • Salvation Army – $1 million to serve households statewide ineligible for assistance from FIA or for whom such assistance is insufficient or not available
  • Michigan Community Action Agency Association – $1 million in a direct grant for low-income energy assistance
  • The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) – $1 million for the THAW Fund.

Today’s order follows four previous Commission orders approving grants from the Fund.

The MPSC is an agency within the Department of Consumer and Industry Services.