Fallin issued an executive order (click here to read the order) instructing DHS to expedite applications for both the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Energy Crisis Assistance Program. The federal assistance programs help low-income families with heating costs in the winter, cooling costs in the summer and home insulation.
“I want to make sure we are making assistance available to Oklahomans who are struggling to keep warm because of the high propane prices,” Fallin said. “Many Oklahoma residents depend on the use of propane for survival during the winter months and the effects of the shortage are being felt throughout the state.”
DHS, in cooperation with the federal government, provides seasonal assistance to low-income households to assist with winter heating bills and to provide help for some families who have received utility cut-off notices. In order to qualify, persons must be Oklahoma residents and must need financial assistance for home energy costs.
Fallin also ordered DHS Director Ed Lake to open the Energy Crisis Assistance application period immediately for qualifying individuals and families who depend on propane for heat. The Energy Crisis Assistance application period was not scheduled to open until March.
Fallin’s order also asks the attorney general to continue investigating reports of price gouging, as defined by the Oklahoma Emergency Price Stabilization Act. Her order requests the attorney general “to take and any all steps necessary to ensure that no one doing business in this State is violating the Act and that those who choose to violate the Act are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Propane is commonly used for heating homes in rural areas not served by natural gas. There are approximately 400,000 propane consumers in Oklahoma.
What can Oklahomans can do to cope with high propane costs and frigid temperatures?
Apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP offers assistance to low-income families with heating costs. Governor Fallin has ordered DHS to give priority status to LIHEAP applicants who use propane as their primary or only source of heating. To apply, call (405) 521-3444; Monday - Friday.
Dial 2-1-1. 2-1-1 is a non-emergency service that can provide assistance or referrals to individuals who need help. For more information click here: http://www.211oklahoma.org/about-2-1-1/
Seek shelter at faith-based centers. Governor Fallin has asked the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and other faith-based facilities to help provide shelter to those in need.