Governor Jodi Rell has announced new cash for heating oil dealers who are supporting the stateâ€™s low income energy assistance program. But dealers point out the help comes just eight days before the program is due to end.
The reimbursement rate for the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program has been a point of contention for more than six months. Under the plan, heating oil dealers provide oil to low income households at a discounted price. Since last October, the dealersâ€™ trade association has been warning that the stateâ€™s rate of reimbursement leaves them out of pocket, and had urged its members not to participate.
Now Governor Rell says the payments will be boosted by four cents per gallon, up from three dollars 29 per gallon. Dealers point out that the help is all but too late, with the program due to end on March 14th. Governorâ€™s spokesman Rich Harris says the rate has always been based on the cost of oil arriving in New Haven harbor.
"Historically the program has always paid the New Haven harbor average, itâ€™s only in the last few weeks that the price spiked and with the price of oil over 100 dollars a barrel that the decision was taken to move it to the New Haven harbor high."
The program is largely funded using cash from the federal government. After months of lobbying, the Bush administration recently released an additional three million dollars for Connecticutâ€™s assistance program â€“ state officials say that will still leave a shortfall of over seven million dollars by the end of the winter.