Dear Dover Neighbors,
The temperatures are dropping and many of us are thinking about turning on the furnace. I share your concern about high heating costs this winter and would like to share with you information that may help ease the financial burden of paying heating costs this winter.
Utility payment plans. Massachusetts’ investor-owned utilities offer flexible payment plans, regardless of income, and potential balance forgiveness. Enrolling in a payment plan can protect you against shutoffs for up to 12 months with most utility companies, including Eversource, tel. 866-861-6225.
Income-eligible assistance programs. For customers with a household income not greater than 60 percent of the state median income, Massachusetts utilities offer a discount on a customer's total utility bill as well as individualized payment plans, known as arrearage management plans (AMPs), that allow a customer to have some or all of their outstanding balance forgiven. Customers can also apply at any time throughout the winter season for fuel assistance through the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Community action agencies can help walk you through the process of applying and answer any questions you may have. Dover’s agency is the South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC), tel. 508-620-1230.
Anyone within 60 to 80 percent of the state median income are encouraged to see if they qualify for financial help from the Good Neighbor Energy Fund, which provides additional energy assistance. Additionally, Dover’s Council on Aging can help assist with providing information about resources available to qualifying residents. Reach out to the COA Outreach Coordinator for more information at 508-315-5734.
Winter heating shutoff protections. You are protected by Massachusetts law (MGL c.164, § 124F) from having your gas or electric utilities shutoff from November 15, 2022, to March 15, 2023 if those services are used for heating. You will still be responsible for any unpaid bills when the shutoff ends. The Attorney General's office encourages customers to enroll in a utility payment plan, which also provides shutoff protections and avoids accumulating debt. Most utilities offer payment plans for up to 12 months.
Energy efficiency audit. The nation-leading Mass Save energy efficiency programs run by the Massachusetts investor-owned utilities can provide information about how to reduce your energy use. This should lead to lower bills over time. In addition, income-eligible customers can participate in Mass Save's low-income offering, known as the Low-Income Energy Affordability Network. (masslean.org).
For more information on these resources, please visit my website www.RepGarlick.com. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office at 617-722-2582 if you have any questions or concerns and please stay safe and warm this winter season.
Denise C. Garlick
13th Norfolk District