Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Comments to OTDA on Next Year's HEAP Plan Due February 17, 2010

The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) has issued a notice inviting public input on development of the State Plan for New York's Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). Under the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Act (LIHEAA) states are given great leeway to design their programs, but they must do so with public participation in the process. The purpose of the federal grants is "to assist low-income households, particularly those with the lowest incomes, that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy, primarily in meeting their immediate home energy needs."

According to the OTDA Notice inviting public comment:
Written, faxed or e-mailed comments on the development of the 2010-2011 New York Home Energy Assistance Program State Plan will be accepted from February 3, 2010 through no later than close of business, February 17, 2010.

Written comments should be addressed to:
NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
HEAP Bureau
40 North Pearl Street, 11C
Albany, New York 12243
Faxed comments should be sent to:
NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
HEAP Bureau
(518) 474-9347 or to (518) 474-5281

E-mailed comments should be sent to:
Later in the year, OTDA will issue a State Register Notice under SAPA and publish its draft HEAP plan for public comment and then finalize it for submission by the Governor to HHS.

In past years, a HEAP Block Grant Advisory Committee consisting of representatives of other state agencies, e.g., the PSC and Office for the Aging, representatives of energy providers, such as utilities and oil dealers, representatives of low income weatherization groups, and consumer advocates provided additional expertise and input to OTDA on design and implementation of the HEAP Plan.

OTDA did not schedule an Advisory Committee to discuss the 2009-2010 OTDA draft HEAP plan.

In his proposed budget for 2010-2011, Governor Paterson proposes to eliminate the HEAP Advisory Committee in the name of cost cutting. The Advisory Committee members receive no additional compensation from the state for their participation. The Governor also has asked the legislature to waive the statutory requirement requiring the allocation of 15% of HEAP funds for low-income weatherization. See Governor Paterson Proposes Elimination of HEAP Weatherization Funding, PULP Network, PULP Network, January 28, 2010.

The current New York State HEAP Plan is here.

OTDA's summary of comments received from the public in development of the current plan are not posted at its website. PULP's comments filed last year are here.

For more information about HEAP, see PULP "Winter Extra" Guide to HEAP Now Online, PULP Network, November 12, 2009.

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