Operation Fuel and its statewide network of fuel banks have begun to prepare for their upcoming winter energy assistance program. Operation Fuel held its annual statewide Energy Assistance Conference last week in partnership with Eversource Energy and Avangrid subsidiaries: United Illuminating, Southern Connecticut Gas, and Connecticut Natural Gas. There were representatives from fuel banks throughout Connecticut and several state agencies at the conference along with staff from Operation Fuel and the utilities. The energy assistance conference focused on the availability of energy assistance and various programs that the utility companies have to help lower- and moderate-income households manage their energy expenses. \u201cWe want to make sure that vulnerable Connecticut households are able to keep their homes warm this winter and do not have to choose between paying for heat and other basic necessities. Energy affordability is a year-round problem for more than 322,000 Connecticut households,\u201d pointed out Brenda Watson, Operation Fuel\u2019s Acting Director. \u00a0Last winter, Operation Fuel provided $2.1 million in energy assistance to more than 4,900 households. Operation Fuel is Connecticut\u2019s only statewide, year-round nonprofit energy assistance organization. The meeting also provided an opportunity for the fuel banks\u2019 staff to get answers to questions they had about energy assistance and energy efficiency programs that can help to lower energy costs. Some of the families and individuals who need energy assistance are renters and live in multi-family dwellings. In such cases, it is up to the property owners to make their buildings more energy efficient. Operation Fuel\u2019s statewide network of more than 100 fuel banks will begin taking applications on Dec. 1, 2017. Individuals who need energy assistance should call 211. Now in its 40th year, Operation Fuel provides emergency energy assistance to lower- and moderate-income working families and individuals, the elderly, and disabled individuals who are in financial crisis. For more information on Operation Fuel or to make a donation, go to operationfuel.org. Donations may also be sent to Operation Fuel, 75 Charter Oak Avenue, Suite 2-240, Hartford, CT. 06106.