Friday, July 29, 2005

Ford Redoubles Effort To Secure Emergency Utility Assistance

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Harold Ford again urged Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt to release $48 million in funds to prevent power cut-offs for those most vulnerable to the summer’s heat wave.

"It is clear that local power companies across the country are struggling to do what’s right. Let’s help them," Ford said.

Both letters follow.

July 29, 2005
The Honorable Mike Leavitt
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I am writing to reiterate my request that the Department of Health and Human Services immediately release the remaining $48 million available in emergency contingency funding from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) so that states and localities can provide badly needed assistance to those who are most at risk for health related problems or death as a result of extreme temperatures.

At my request, Memphis Light Gas & Water (MLGW), the utility company which provides power in Tennessee’s Ninth Congressional District, agreed to make every effort defer cutoffs for non-payment for their customers who are most vulnerable to the dangerous health effects of the heat. The extra assistance from emergency LIHEAP enables MLGW to extend service to these customers in times of extreme weather.

Enclosed is correspondence from MLGW for your review.

As you are aware, much of the country has experienced a devastating heat wave. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in the Mid-South area are expected to go past the 90s. The heat index is expected to approach or exceed 100? by the end of next week. This will continue throughout the month of August.

The elderly, handicapped, children and those who have chronic illnesses are often the first to suffer from various ailments as a result of the heat, including heat exhaustion, cramps or heat stroke. At least 35 people have died from heat-related conditions in Missouri, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Phoenix, including one in Nashville, TN.

Once again, I appreciate the Administration’s assistance in allocating $250 million in LIHEAP in this fiscal year. Releasing the remaining LIHEAP money now, will give states and local governments additional resources to provide energy assistance to those who are most susceptible to the dangers of this heat wave.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.


Harold Ford, Jr.