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Am Samoa receives additional home energy assistance

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Biden-Harris Administration announced last Friday that due to passage of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), American Samoa has received a record $651,226 for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) available this fiscal year.

As part of a state-by-state breakdown of funding, the Administration reported that in addition to an annual appropriation of $278,797 for American Samoa, the territory received an additional $372,429 in funds from ARPA – more than double the territory’s typical annual funding, according to a White House statement.

“The total of $651,226 is the highest amount American Samoa has ever received in LIHEAP to help Americans struggling with home energy costs,” it says.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS), is the grantor for LIHEAP and the program administered locally by the ASG Territorial Energy Office (TEO).

According to TEO, LIHEAP is a life-saving program that provides assistance for low-income households with frail elderly, individuals with disabilities, young children, by helping to pay a percentage of electrical bills with the American Samoa Power Authority.

Payments are normally made to ASPA directly to help and make sure households’ electricity is not terminated. It pays a percentage of electricity bills, and it also provides energy-efficient appliances for low-income families.

According to the Governor’s State of the Territory Comprehensive Report, distributed to lawmakers, TEO has two new programs that are pending final federal approval.

The first one is the Low-Income Home Water Assistance program (LIHWAP), which is a a new grant that provides funds to assist low-income households with drinking water and wastewater bills. This program is similar to LIHEAP, and funded by USDHHS).

The second one is the Home Solar Panels, funded by the US Department of Energy. TEO said it looks forward to providing this service once approved to the community and will work closely with ASPA to ensure that the basic infrastructure to accommodate Home Solar Panel programs for families are in place with regards to use and proper storage measures.