Michigan winters can be harsh and the assistance to low-income families to help them heat their homes often saves lives.
Legislation was recently signed that will ensure that thousands of low-income Southwest Michigan residents who may have faced heating utility shutoffs will be able to keep their homes and families warm this winter.
Due to a recent court decision, an estimated 130,000 eligible Michiganresidents faced losing this heating assistance.
The long-standing Low Income Energy Efficiency Funding program was created by a surcharge on utility bills that the courts struck down due to language inadvertently deleted during a 2008 update of the law.
The loss of this aid would have forced residents to choose between risking freezing or using alternative means for heat, like grills or the car, which have led to accidental fires and deaths.
Public Acts 274 and 275 of 2011 continue an existing charge on electric and natural gas bills to raise $48 million for a new Vulnerable Household Warmth Fund.
The charge is approximately a 50-percent reduction in the cost currently born by rate payers and will ensure that vulnerable Southwest Michigan parents will not have to worry over the holiday season about how they are going to keep their children warm.
I applaud the governor for helping solve the immediate problem of low-income heating during the winter, and I look forward to working with him to create a comprehensive, fair and long-term solution.