Pa. funds should cover any uptick in heating help requests

     A cyclist bikes through the Queen Village neighborhood of Philadelphia after six to 10 inches of snow fell overnight. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

    A cyclist bikes through the Queen Village neighborhood of Philadelphia after six to 10 inches of snow fell overnight. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

    Pennsylvania has experienced record-low temperatures this winter, but that has not yet led to a spike in requests for federal heating aid. 

    Eric Kiehl, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Welfare, said it has received 388,148 applications for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP, in the 2013-14 season. That is a 3 percent decrease compared with the same period last season.

    An attorney at Community Legal Services said that trend could reverse in the next few weeks as utility companies begin notifying delinquent low-income customers that the reprieve they get in the winter months will soon end.

    Kiehl said the state is ready for such an uptick. “We anticipate having enough funds,” he said. “[The] federal government recently approved another $29 million for Pennsylvania for LIHEAP funding due to the recent cold spell.”

    So far, 336,456 households in Pennsylvania have been approved for LIHEAP this season. The deadline for applications is April 4.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.