A fuel truck parked at Tuxis Ohr’s Fuel in Meriden Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

Operation Fuel is pausing its energy assistance program due to high demand. 

Despite warmer than usual weather this winter, the nonprofit said it must hit the pause button through the end of March. 

When it does resume on April 3, it will reduce the grants from $1,000 per household to $500, so it can serve more households. 

“We regret that we must do this but feel we had no choice,” Operation Fuel’s Executive Director Brenda Watson said. “There has already been an extremely high number of requests for energy assistance this program season. We must pause to get through the backlog so that folks who have applied get their applications reviewed promptly.” 

In the meantime, those who need assistance are encouraged to contact their utility company or touch base with the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program by calling 211. 

So far this year, Operation Fuel has provided $6 million in energy assistance to 7,000 households. 

The news comes the same day that Connecticut’s congressional delegation announced that the state will receive an additional $19.6 million in federal funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program also known as LIHEAP. The state has already received more than $105 million in LIHEAP funding, but that’s less than the $140 million it received the previous year. 

In November, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a law that supplemented this year’s original $98.5 million in LIHEAP funding with an additional $30 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding. That followed a decision in August by Democrat-controlled committees to reject Republican attempts to increase the funding using federal COVID fund. At the time Democrats equated the Republican attempts to increase funding to political posturing before an election.