By Marcus Cocova
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic thousands of Americans have found themselves unable to pay their utility bills. Collectively, customers owe over $20 billion, which is a 67% increase from the yearly average.
This November, the Biden administration requested that utility companies prevent shutoffs during the winter. The president has emphasized that funding for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program was doubled by the American rescue plan which was signed in March.
Some have criticized the LIHEAP, calling it a band-aid for a more significant problem.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, only 17% of American households are eligible for LIHEAP benefits. Throughout 2020, 32 states enacted an emergency moratoria which prevented companies from shutting off services. Most of these have expired.