- Am I eligible for protection from being shut off?
- Is assistance with my fuel bills available?
- Am I eligible for a discount rate?
- What is budget billing?
- What is a payment plan?
- How can I reduce my utility bills through conservation?
- How can I dispute my utility bill?
Am I eligible for protection from being shut off?
If you have a Financial Hardship
You are protected from having your electric or gas service shut off if you have a financial hardship AND
- you, or someone in your home, is seriously ill; or
- you have an infant in the home under 12 months; or
- it is between November 15 and March 15 and you need the service to heat your home; or
- all adults in the home are age 65 or older and a minor child resides in the home.
A financial hardship exists when a customer is unable to pay an overdue bill and such customer meets income eligibility requirements for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program ("LIHEAP") administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development. You may be eligible for assistance if your household income does not exceed 60% of the state median income. More information can be found on the Department of Housing and Community Development website. For the most recent LIHEAP Income Eligibility Chart 220 C.M.R. § 25.01 information, look in the "60% of Estimated State Median Income " column. Alternatively, the Department of Public Utilities may determine that a financial hardship exists. 220 C.M.R. § 25.01 .
If you have a financial hardship, you should inform your utility company immediately. Your company will send you a certifying form. You will have seven days to return it to the Company with documentation supporting your need for protection.
If you are age 65 or older
Utility companies may not shut off service to households where all residents are 65 years or older without written approval from the Department of Public Utilities. If all residents of your household are over age 65, you should inform your utility company. 220 C.M.R. § 25.05.
Yes, there are a number of programs available.
For the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development Energy Assistance Programs , call 1 (800) 632-8175.
If you are not eligible for fuel assistance, you may be eligible for help from the Salvation Army's Good Neighbor Energy Fund, which offers one-time grants for eligible consumers. For more information about eligibility criteria and where to apply, please call 1 (800) 334-3047 in area codes 617/508/781/978 or 1 (800) 262-1320 in area code 413. Or, you may visit the website to learn about the program and review the Fund's income eligibility guidelines.
Am I eligible for a discount rate?
If you either (1) receive any means-tested public-benefit program or (2) are eligible for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), you may be eligible for a discount rate from your gas and electric companies. 220 C.M.R. § 11.04 (5) ; 220 C.M.R. § 14.03 (2A) . For more information on LIHEAP or for the most recent LIHEAP Income Eligibility Chart 220 C.M.R. § 14.03 (2A) , you may visit their website. Look in the "60% of Estimated State Median Income " column. You may also contact your gas or electric company to determine if you qualify for the discount rate.
What is budget billing?
Budget billing is an arrangement you make with your utility company for equal monthly payments. 220 CMR 25.01(2), 25.02(6) . Your gas or electric usage is estimated for the year, divided by 12 months, and you pay the same amount each month. However, if you are using more or less energy than estimated, your bill may be increased or decreased during the year. At the end of the year, your company will reconcile your bill with the amount actually used. Then you will receive a credit if you overpaid or a bill if you underpaid. By the end of the year, you will have been billed for the actual amount used. Contact your utility company to set up a budget plan.
What is a payment plan?
A payment plan is a payment arrangement for overdue charges. 220 CMR 25.01(2), 25.02(6) . A monthly payment is due in addition to your current monthly bill. Contact your utility company to set up a payment plan. If you have a billing dispute with your utility company, you may contact the DPU's Consumer Division.
How can I reduce my utility bills through conservation?
WEATHERIZATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (WAP)
The Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) assists low-income households in reducing heating bills by providing comprehensive home energy conservation services ("weatherization").
For more information on this program, visit the WAP website.
HEATING EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE RETROFIT TASK WEATHERIZATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (HEARTWAP)
HEARTWAP provides heating system services, including repairs and maintenance, to low-income households. For more information on HEARTWAP, visit their website.
MORE ENERGY SAVING TIPS
For more information on how to save energy and reduce heating bills read the 15 Things To Do Now To Winterize Your Home and the 6 Ways To Save Energy All Year . For additional energy savings tips, visit the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Saving Tips website.
If you have a billing dispute with your utility company, you may contact the DPU's Consumer Division.
This information is provided by the Department of Public Utilities