From the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office:
Due to the New England region’s reliance on natural gas to fuel our power plants and the impact on gas prices from the war in Ukraine, customers in New England will experience record-high electricity and gas supply prices this winter. Assistance programs are available to help customers pay bills or manage the increase.
YOUR UTILITY COMPANY CAN HELP
If you are behind on your utility bills, you should call your utility company immediately and ask about their payment plans. Utilities are offering several customer assistance programs, including flexible payment plans (regardless of income) and balance forgiveness plans for those eligible. You will be protected from shutoff if you make payments as scheduled under the plan.
BERKSHIRE GAS (800) 292-5012; EVERSOURCE (866) 861-6225 (East), (877) 963-2632 (West), (800) 688-6160 (EGMA); LIBERTY (800) 544-4944; NATIONAL GRID (800) 322-3223; UNITIL (888) 301-7700.
Don’t wait to apply for income-eligible assistance programs. First, contact your utility to apply for an income-eligible rate which provides a discount on your whole bill. Second, you may qualify for the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP eligibility is evaluated based on your gross household income for the past 4 weeks. Use the contact info below to find your local community action agency where you can apply for LIHEAP.
MANAGE YOUR USAGE AND BILLS
Consider contacting Mass Save for an energy efficiency audit to see how you can reduce your overall energy use, which should result in lower monthly bills over time.
If you don’t qualify for income-based assistance, there may also be funds available to assist you. If your household income is between 60 to 80 percent of the state median income, you may be able to receive help from the Good Neighbor Energy Fund.
From November 15 to March 15, there is a moratorium in place that prevents shutting off your gas or electric if you use that to heat your home. But know that you will still owe payment for your bills. To avoid falling into debt, take advantage of fuel assistance programs or enroll in a budget-installment plan.
A study by the AG’s Office found that most electric supplier customers lose money in the long run. Beware of deceptive marketing promising savings as compared to the utility’s high winter electric prices. If you have a supplier, check if your rate is still competitive with your utility’s. Contact the AG’s Office with questions.