DENVER - The deep freezes that have gripped Colorado and various parts of the U.S. the past couple of months have had profound effects on how we stay warm this winter. One of the most concerning consequences is the spike in propane prices.
According to a recent article in The Denver Post, the price of a gallon of propane in Colorado jumped to as high as $6 in mid-January, up from $2.30. Last winter, propane in Colorado cost approximately $1.85 per gallon.
Nationally, average residential propane prices have increased by approximately 60 cents per gallon since October, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Propane is a fuel source that can be used for furnaces, water heaters, air conditioners, outdoor grills, fireplaces and appliances. In Colorado, propane is more frequently used as a heating fuel by people who live in rural areas.
The bitter cold weather is causing people to use more propane. In turn, the increasing demand for propane is driving up its price.
As a result, many people who are in need of propane for their heating fuel are finding it increasingly difficult to afford. Colorado’s LEAP energy assistance program is here to help those people.
“Our goal is to make sure that no Coloradans go cold this winter because they can’t afford their heating bill.” LEAP Manager Aggie Berens says. “This recent band of dangerously cold weather has really threatened the safety of people who rely on propane for their heating fuel source.”
LEAP provides cash assistance to help hard-working families and individuals pay winter home heating costs or help with broken furnaces or wood stoves. This year the average benefit for people who qualify is expected to be $447 per household.
“We don’t want anyone in Colorado to be left out in the cold this winter,” Berens says. “We’re here to support those people who are working hard to make ends meet.”
LEAP has several eligibility requirements. Applicants must be Colorado residents and U.S. citizens or legal aliens. They also need to provide a copy of a valid identification and a completed affidavit to comply with Colorado Revised Statutes regarding documentation of lawful presence. Valid forms of I.D. include a Colorado driver’s license or I.D. card; a U.S. Military I.D. card or Military Dependent’s I.D. card; a U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner card; or a Native American Tribal document. Other forms of I.D. may be accepted as well.
Applicants also must be responsible for paying heating costs, either directly to a utility company or to a landlord as part of rent. Applicants’ income cannot exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty index. LEAP accepts applications from Nov. 1 through April 30. To date, LEAP has received 87,519 applications, 65,573 of which have been approved.
People interested in applying can call 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) to order a mailed application. Alternatively, applications are available at every county department of social or human services, most utility companies, and many community agencies, like Catholic Charities. Applications also can be downloaded from www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.
Applicants may fax the completed application to their appropriate county office or mail it to the county at the address available on the website.
People eligible for LEAP may also qualify for other benefits, like the Crisis Intervention Program, which helps repair or replace the home’s primary heating system; or the Weatherization Program, which improves energy efficiency in homes.
Colorado also offers a rebate of property tax, rent and heat expenses to low-income seniors and disabled persons. Known as the Property Tax/Rent/Heat Credit (PTC) rebate, the maximum property tax rebate is $660 and the maximum heat expenses rebate is $192. The Colorado Department of Revenue administers the rebate.
Please visit http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/Revenue/REVX/1216116072809 for more information and the rebate application booklet.
To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call toll free 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap to view the most current program application requirements.