HOUSE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, LIVESTOCK, & NATURAL RESOURCES
01:23 PM -- Briefing on the Low-Income Energy Assistance (LEAP) Program
Tom Plant, Director of the Governor's Energy Office, provided an overview of the energy office and the office's weatherization program and distributed a handout to the committee (Attachment A). Mr. Plant also explained how funding is allocated through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and HB 06-1200, which allocates funding for Tier 2 severance tax dollars. He also explained the restrictions on how federal funding can be used.
Seth Portner, Deputy Director of the Governor's Energy Office and Acting Director for the weatherization program, discussed the weatherization program budget and indicated that the dollar amounts shown in the handout are for 2007-08 and that the amount provided for HB 06-1200 is approximately 20 percent more for 2009-10.
The committee discussed the statewide budget needs and the need for weatherization services.
Mr. Plant responded to questions from the committee about how the energy office would react to transferring state Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) funding and the inability to transfer funding received from the federal government.
Mr. Plant discussed the distribution of funding among the Governor's Energy Office, the Department of Health and Human Services, and Energy Outreach Colorado. He also explained how a reduction in funding would impact programs funded through severance tax dollars.
Mr. Portner explained how a funding reduction would impact the services provided by the weatherization program and the number of homes that would likely not receive assistance as a result. He also discussed how federal stimulus dollars would be used.
Representative Looper requested a list of energy assistance programs from the Governor's Energy Office that are administered by the U.S. Department of Energy, LEAP, Xcel, and funded through HB 06-1200.
Mr. Portner discussed federal and state income caps on families eligible to receive weatherization services through the Governor's Energy Office and federal stimulus dollars allocated for weatherization services.
The committee discussed a memo prepared by David Beaujon, Legislative Council Staff, regarding the LEAP appropriation under HB 08-1387 (Attachment B).
Mr. Plant discussed services provided by severance tax dollars and associated performance measures.
Todd Jorgensen, Director of the state LEAP in the Department of Human Services, provided an overview of the state's LEAP services and explained the program's funding sources. He distributed handouts to the committee, including a fact sheet and budget and expenditure information (Attachments C, D, and E).
Mr. Jorgensen discussed the Governor's discretion and authority regarding transferring federal LIHEAP funding.
In response to questions from the committee, Mr. Jorgensen discussed tribal access to LEAP funding and the spreadsheets showing state allotments of LIHEAP funding (Attachments F and G).
Mr. Jorgensen discussed SB 09-279 which would transfer $3 million of the Department of Human Service's allocation of severance tax dollars to the General Fund.
The committee asked Mr. Jorgensen about Youth Corps program funding.
Mr. Jorgensen discussed how LEAP funding is allocated to families and the average benefit received by LEAP program participants. He discussed the increased number of applicants for LEAP services and the changing demographics of LEAP recipients.
Mr. Jorgensen discussed projections for families needing LEAP assistance in the future.
Mr. Jorgensen discussed the LEAP budget for 2008 through 2010 and expenditures for 2007 through 2009 (Attachments D and E).
Skip Arnold, Director of Energy Outreach Colorado, described the mission and history of the organization. He distributed a handout to the committee and discussed actual and projected winter home energy bills from 2002 through 2010 (Attachment H). He also explained LEAP funding recipient's average share versus their obligation to pay their utilities.
Mr. Arnold discussed how funding through HB 06-1200 is allocated among the Governor's Energy Office, the Department of Human Services, and Energy Outreach Colorado. He explained how Energy Outreach Colorado uses its funding to fill in gaps when the state LEAP cannot provide assistance, including providing assistance for utilities other than heat.
Mr. Arnold explained that Energy Outreach Colorado provides cash assistance to recipients by paying the vendor directly.
The committee adjourned.