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Searching 2021-2022 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

 

Title 33 : Human Services

Chapter 026 : HOME HEATING FUEL ASSISTANCE

(Cite as: 33 V.S.A. § 2607)
  • § 2607. Payments to fuel suppliers

    (a) The Secretary of Human Services or designee shall certify fuel suppliers, excluding firewood and wood pellet suppliers, to be eligible to participate in the Home Heating Fuel Assistance Program. Beneficiaries may use their seasonal fuel assistance benefit to obtain home heating fuel or energy only from a fuel supplier certified by the Director, except that beneficiaries who heat with firewood or wood pellets may obtain their firewood or wood pellets from any supplier they choose.

    (b) Certified fuel suppliers shall agree to conduct reasonable efforts in order to inform and assist beneficiaries in their service areas, maintain records of amounts and costs of all fuel deliveries, send periodic statements to customers receiving home heating fuel assistance informing them of their account's credit or debit balance as of the last statement, deliveries or usage since that statement and the charges for such, payments made or applied, indicating their source, since that statement, and the ending credit or debit balance. Certified fuel suppliers shall also agree to provide the Secretary of Human Services or designee such information deemed necessary for the efficient administration of the Program.

    (c) Certified fuel suppliers shall not disclose the beneficiary status of recipients of Home Heating Fuel Assistance benefits, the names of recipients, or other information pertaining to recipients to anyone, except for purposes directly connected with administration of the Home Heating Fuel Assistance Program or when required by law.

    (d) Certified fuel suppliers shall also agree to enter into budget agreements with beneficiaries for annualized monthly payments for fuel supplies provided the beneficiary meets accepted industry credit standards, and shall grant Program beneficiaries such cash discounts, preseason delivery savings, automatic fuel delivery agreements, and any other discounts granted to any other heating fuel customer or as the Secretary of Human Services or designee may negotiate with certified fuel suppliers.

    (e) The Secretary of Human Services or designee shall provide each certified fuel supplier with a list of the households who are its customers and have been found eligible for annual Home Heating Fuel Assistance for the current year, the total amount of annual Home Heating Fuel Assistance that has been authorized for each household, and how the total amount has been allocated over the heating season. Each authorized amount shall function as a line of credit for each eligible household. The Secretary or designee shall disburse authorized Home Heating Fuel Assistance benefits to certified fuel suppliers on behalf of eligible households. Authorized benefits for oil, propane, kerosene, dyed diesel, and coal shall be paid after fuel is delivered and invoiced to the Secretary or designee. Authorized benefits for electricity and natural gas shall be paid in full and credited to the eligible household's account at the same time benefit notices are issued to the eligible household.

    (f) The Secretary of Human Services or designee shall negotiate with one or more certified fuel suppliers to obtain the most advantageous pricing, payment terms, and delivery methods possible for eligible households.

    (g)(1) The Public Utility Commission shall require natural gas suppliers subject to regulation under 30 V.S.A. § 203 to provide a discount program to customers with incomes no greater than 200 percent of the federal poverty level or who meet the Department for Children and Families' means test of eligibility for LIHEAP crisis fuel assistance. Eligibility for the discount shall be verified by the Department for Children and Families.

    (2) In implementing the discount program, the Commission shall consider:

    (A) low-income discount programs, rates, and cost structures of other Vermont regulated utilities;

    (B) low-income discount programs, rates, and cost structures for gas customers in other states; and

    (C) options for allocating the costs of the discount program that avoid or reduce the cost impact of the program on ineligible ratepayers, including consideration of each of the following:

    (i) use of any revenues collected from ratepayers that are in excess of the revenue requirement most recently determined by the Commission; and

    (ii) use of revenues collected from ratepayers to fund system expansions that have not been placed in service.

    (3) On or before January 15, 2013, the Commission shall:

    (A) implement this subsection by order to each natural gas company subject to its jurisdiction; and

    (B) report to the House Committees on Commerce and Economic Development and on Human Services and to the Senate Committees on Health and Welfare and on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs on its implementation of this subsection, including its consideration of the matters described in subdivision (2) of this subsection and the results of that consideration. (Added 1995, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 10, 1996; amended 1999, No. 59, § 6, eff. June 1, 1999; 2005, No. 93 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 38, 126c, eff. March 3, 2006; 2009, No. 88 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. April 29, 2010; 2011, No. 136 (Adj. Sess.), § 13, eff. May 18, 2012; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 57, eff. May 20, 2014.)