MADISON – Earlier today, Governor Tony Evers announced the Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which would provide $322 million in funding to help support Wisconsinites who have experienced income loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Customers First! Coalition applauds this announcement and has been supportive of the funding since it was being considered by Congress late last year.
“Providing relief for utility arrears is an important step towards helping electric customers keep up with their bills during the pandemic and ensuring energy providers can continue to provide the safe and reliable power that is needed more than ever,” according to Kristin Gilkes, Executive Director of the Customers First! Coalition.
Through the program, rental and utility assistance payments are made directly to the landlord or utility provider on behalf of the tenant. The DOA will partner with Wisconsin Community Action agencies and Energy Services, Inc. to accept applications and distribute rental and utility assistance.
In a typical year, LIHEAP, the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program, which is also funded by the federal government and implemented by the states, serves only a fraction of the households eligible for assistance. Additional energy assistance funding for in-need households due to COVID-19 is critical to both to help customers and ensure utilities can continue to fund operations while continuing to provide power, which currently cannot be disconnected due to non-payment because of the annual winter disconnection moratorium.
The Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program is funded by the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program and administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury. More details about the Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program are available here.
The Customers First! Coalition is an alliance of customer, business, labor, and environmental organizations; municipal and cooperative electric utilities; and an investor-owned utility. The Coalition has worked together for more than two decades to promote public policies that preserve Wisconsin’s affordable and reliable electricity.