The Day

Operation Fuel to put help on hold

Energy assistance program needs time to work through backlog

- By JOHANA VAZQUEZ Day Staff Writer

Operation Fuel, the only yearround emergency energy assistance program in the state, is pausing its program for the month of March after significan­t demand.

So far this program year, Operation Fuel has provided nearly $6 million in energy assistance to more than 6,000 households.

“We regret that we must do this but feel we had no choice,” explained Operation Fuel’s Executive Director Brenda Watson in a news release. “There has already been an extremely high number of requests for energy assistance this program season. We must pause to get through the backlog so that folks who have applied get their applicatio­ns reviewed promptly.”

Operation Fuel partners with 58 organizati­ons in the state, including the Thames Valley Council for Community Action. TVCCA, serving New London County, has faced a higher number of energy assistance applicatio­ns this season.

Barbara Crouch, senior director of marketing and developmen­t at TVCCA, said applicatio­ns have surpassed 10,000 as of last week. Last year the program received 9,960 applicants when assistance ended in June.

Zach St. John, the director of energy at TVCCA, said the agency would continue to accept applicatio­ns through May if funding is available. He said he is hoping the pause on support from Operationa­l Fuel will have a minimal effect on TVCCA’s program.

Crouch on Friday said TVCCA still has state funds as well as funding it has raised to assist people in March. Crouch said she is hoping TVCCA will be able to meet all needs and understand­s the fiscal realities of why Operationa­l Fuel placed a pause on assistance.

TVCCA looks at income and utility bill costs to determine eligibilit­y for those in the New London County.

Operation Fuel will resume providing energy assistance on April 3 and will reduce energy grants from $1,000 per household to $500, to serve more households.

Watson said those who need energy assistance during March should contact their utility company or the Connecticu­t Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) by calling 211. Operation Fuel will provide energy assistance from April 3 through May 31 or whenever funds run out.

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