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Janet Mills asks the feds to give more heating oil assistance to Mainers as prices skyrocket

Heating Oil Prices
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP file
A heating oil delivery truck travels down a road in South Portland, Maine, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018.

Gov. Janet Mills is asking federal officials to increase funding for a key program that helps tens of thousands of Maine families heat their homes.

Maine is slated to receive about $39 million from the federal government for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. But with heating oil prices averaging nearly $5 a gallon, Mills sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra urging him to "seek all avenues to provide additional LIHEAP funding for Maine."

Mills is also asking the department to expand LIHEAP's eligibility guidelines.

Roughly 60% of Maine homes rely on oil for heat, compared with 4% nationally. A one-time influx of federal stimulus money last year allowed MaineHousing to provide about a tank and a half of heating oil to LIHEAP clients. But with sky-high oil prices, officials say they'll only be able to offer half a tank of oil this season unless Maine receives more federal money.