Fuel bank directors from throughout Connecticut discussed the outlook for emergency energy assistance this winter and how to maximize available resources during Operation Fuel’s annual statewide meeting today.
Acknowledging that the need for energy assistance greatly exceeds the available funding, guest speaker state Senator Bob Duff said there has to be more innovative thinking when it comes to energy assistance. “Every year Operation Fuel helps thousands of Connecticut’s most vulnerable households by providing warmth and lights, but resources are limited and the need is many times greater than the available aid. We can and must do more to help Operation Fuel stretch every dollar,” said Senator Duff. He pointed out that some of the ways to accomplish this include being more energy efficient, building new partnerships, and localizing the need for energy assistance for the elderly and families that are struggling financially.
Executive Director Patricia Wrice said that when she joined Operation Fuel 17 years ago, an energy grant of $250 would fill an oil tank, but now the maximum grant of $500 will barely pay for 100 gallons of oil.
Operation Fuel and its statewide network of more than 100 fuel banks will begin taking applications for the winter program on December 1. In addition to running Connecticut’s only statewide non-profit energy assistance program, Operation Fuel will continue its advocacy for a low-income residential utility rate and the need for a permanent solution to the state’s energy affordability crisis.
This past year, Operation Fuel gave out nearly $3.6 million in energy assistance to more than 8,200 households throughout Connecticut. A total of 21,432 individuals were served including 2,052 elderly and 8,222 children under the age of 18. In addition to the winter program, Operation Fuel also ran limited summer and spring energy assistance programs for households that were in severe crisis and faced with the termination of their utility services.
Operation Fuel is a private, nonprofit program that provides emergency energy assistance through its statewide network of more than 100 fuel banks to lower-income working families, the elderly and disabled individuals who are in financial crisis and not eligible for energy assistance from government-funded programs. Operation Fuel works in partnership with businesses, communities, government and individuals to ensure that Connecticut households have access year-round to critically needed energy assistance.
Donations for Operation Fuel can be sent to Operation Fuel, One Regency Drive, Suite 200, Bloomfield, CT 06002 or made online at www.operationfuel.org.