Welcome! The Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives (AREA) is a member-owned federation of 22 electric distribution cooperatives.

AREA hosts meeting about LIHEAP, prepay

Several of our co-ops sent representatives to a meeting Oct. 13 at AREA with Willie Whitehead, energy section supervisor for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), to discuss concerns about LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program).

LIHEAP is a 100 percent federally funded block grant program; ADECA provides oversight of the program, but the applications are accepted, verified and managed at the local level through community action agencies. Assistance is based on household size and household income. Whitehead says the program served about 89,000 households last year, with federal funding of about $42 million.

Alabama’s rural electric co-ops have members who receive LIHEAP help to pay their utility bills. Some co-ops have had issues with members who opt to use prepay programs and who also receive LIHEAP.

Whitehead stressed to the co-ops that there is an open line of communication between the co-ops and his office, and they’re welcome to contact him to discuss any issues they might have with the administration of the program, or with one of the community action agencies.

Vice president of public affairs Sean Strickler hopes to have such a meeting annually. Prior to Whitehead’s talk, co-ops had the chance to talk to each other about best practices for their prepay programs.