For Immediate Release - May 23, 2006

STATE ANNOUNCES $5 MILLION HEAT LOAN PROGRAM

No-interest or low-interest loans available for household energy efficiency upgrades

The Office of Consumer Affairs and the Division of Energy Resources today announced the availability of loans under the HEAT Loan Program, a $5 million pilot program that provides qualifying consumers with no interest and low interest loans (0-3%) for installing energy efficient heating systems in their homes.

"Consumers should be searching for ways to offset rising energy bills," said Janice S. Tatarka, Director of Consumer Affairs. "This is the right time of year to look into these loans and review your options for installing better performing heating and hot water systems before the heating season begins."

The HEAT Loan Program grants up to $15,000 to consumers who undertake energy efficiency improvements between now and the end of the year. The loans can also be used for insulation for attics, walls, basements and ducts as well as installation of Energy Star® replacement windows. By replacing an existing heating system with an energy efficient system, it's estimated that a household can save $8,000 over the lifetime of the system. The potential total savings to consumers through the HEAT Loan Program is approximately $28 million.

"Even with a mild winter, heating prices hit record levels due to supply disruptions caused by the hurricanes," added Commissioner of Energy Resources David L. O'Connor. "Taking advantage of energy efficiency programs is one way to try and offset these increases."

Consumers whose income is less than 80% of the state median income qualify for loans with 0-1% interest rates and loan terms of up to five to seven years. 80% of the median income for a family of four is $66,150. HEAT loans will be administered by participating banks and set up through the state's residential conservation programs coordinated by MassSAVE®.

Consumers can contact MassSAVE by calling 1-866-527-SAVE or by visiting the MassSAVE website at . Consumers should also consider rebates and incentives offered through MassSAVE programs. MassSAVE partners include, Bay State Gas Company, Berkshire Gas Company, Cape Light Compact, KeySpan Energy Delivery, National Grid, New England Gas Company, NSTAR Electric & Gas, Unitil and Western Mass Electric. Municipal electric customers are not eligible for this program. Heat oil customers are eligible through their non-municipal electric companies.

Participating banks include: Citizens Bank, Southbridge Savings Bank, Workers' Credit Union, BankFive, Boston Firefighters C.U., Franklin First Federal Credit Unions, Haverhill Bank, South Adams Savings Bank, UniBank and Westbank.