HRDC Administers Energy Assistance Programs Across Gallatin, Park, and Meagher Counties

Monday Apr. 1st, 2024

The ongoing rise in the cost of living across Southwest Montana continues to create significant financial pressure on households struggling to make ends meet. Energy costs have increased by 25%, affecting HRDC’s customers disproportionately as energy costs are traditionally a bigger burden for low-income households, many of whom live on fixed incomes. In addition, low- income households spend a far higher percentage of their income on utility bills than higher- earning households.

“The mild temperatures we are having this winter make the rate hikes less visible on monthly energy bills than what we would see during a more typical Montana winter. However, this season we have seen an increase in energy assistance applications and have often heard that  our customers have had to make the difficult decision between paying their rent or paying their utilities,” says Sonja Wheeler, HRDC’s Energy Programs Director.

HRDC administers several different programs designed to help defray energy costs. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides financial assistance to eligible households to help pay their winter home heating bills. Eligibility is based on a household’s gross income and resources. Energy Share of Montana offers support to households who are either without, or soon to be without, heat or power as a result of receiving a disconnect notice from their utility provider.

HRDC also offers no-cost home weatherization services to LIHEAP-eligible customers to help make their homes more energy efficient while reducing the financial burden of their energy costs. Common weatherization services provided include air sealing, attic sealing/insulation, floors skirt/crawl space insulation, wall insulation, weather-stripping, window and door repair/replacement, minor energy related repairs, and heating system testing and repair. Lastly, HRDC helps with furnace repairs or replacements for income-eligible households.

Noting a 21% increase in LIHEAP applications and a 47% increase in Energy Share of Montana applications, Wheeler offers critical advice for community members who would like to submit applications: “Please reach out to us to apply for the LIHEAP program as soon as possible, and to ensure there is not a pause in utility service, please don’t wait for a subsequent utility disconnect notice to apply for Energy Share support. Finally, many folks aren’t aware that they can apply retroactively through April 30, 2024, to receive financial support for their energy bills dating back to the beginning of the winter season.”

More information about energy assistance support can be found at
As a private, not-for-profit Community Action Organization focused on building a better community through its nearly 50 initiatives, HRDC combats poverty in Southwest Montana and has actively served the residents of Park County since 1975, the year the agency was formed.   

Penny Johnson is the Communications Manager for HRDC.