Hello Mainiacs! You have the distinct honor of having some of the coldest winters in the country. You are forced to spend a much higher percentage of your income on electricity and heating oil than the rest of the country. Even so, you should understand that millions of dollars are provided annually to help provide cash payments and bill credits. Maine electric bill assistance and heating oil supplemental programs can reduce your heating costs so that it is affordable.
Fortunately, you can apply for help anytime after July 1 of each year. You may need to ask yourself some qualifying questions. First, is your household income below 228% of federal poverty guidelines? Is your income below 75% of the state median income?
Also, ask yourself if there are any special circumstances that can improve your chances to qualify. For example, having an elderly adult or small child who may be at risk of hypothermia could allow you to qualify. If your doctor confirms that you are at risk, you could also qualify.
The Maine Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides direct support to families through ten community agencies. Contact your nearest agency to qualify for an electricity rate discount.
- Bangor: Call 800-215-4942 for Penquis Community Action Program
- Belfast: Call 207-338-3025 for Waldo Community Action Partners
- East Wilton: Call 207-645-3764 for Western Maine Community Action
- Ellsworth: Call 800-828-7544 for Washington-Hancock Community Agency
- Portland: Call 800-698-4959 for Peoples Regional Opportunity Program
- Presque Isle: Call 800-585-3053 for Aroostook County Action Program
- Rockland: Call 800-585-1605 for Penquis Community Action Program
- Sanford: Call 800-965-5762 for York County Community Action Corp.
- South Paris: Call 800-866-5588 for Community Concepts Inc.
- Waterville: Call 800-542-8227 for Kennebec Valley Community Action Program
Your utility company also must participate in the Low Income Assistance Program (LIAP) in accordance with state law. You may contact one of the Community Action Program Agencies above or your utility company directly.
- Bangor Hydro Electric: Call 800-499-6600
- Central Maine Power: Call 800-750-4000
- Maine Public Service Company: Call 877-655-4448 for PowerPact
In addition to federal and utility company aid, some churches and other charities may be able to help. For example, the Maine Sea Coast Mission helps with heating as well as other basic household needs. Call 866-207-4010 if you live in their coastal service area.
You may benefit from direct electric bill assistance or from some of the other benefits that may be available to you.
- The Low Income Refrigerator Replacement Program could help you get a new fridge and haul away your old inefficient one. Call 207-287-8350
- Rural Development may provide a grant or loan to help modernize your home. Call 800-352-8963, Extension 161.
- MaineHousing provides a Central Heating Improvement Program (CHIP). They provide grants to fix or replace your central air unit. Call 207-624-5745.
Don’t get left out in the bitter Maine cold. Keep your lights on this winter and save some green so that you can afford all of the other rising costs (food, gasoline) in your budget!
Long is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Industrial Relations. He subsequently received his Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. His Certificate in Financial Planning was issued by Florida State University.
Long has achieved the Accredited Credit Counselor and Accredited Financial Counselor certifications through the Association for Financial Counseling, Planning and Education. Long originally achieved the Certified Credit Counselor designation through the National Institute for Financial Education.
In addition to years of nonprofit leadership, Long has been an innovator in the field of volunteer tax return preparation programs. He assists volunteer associations and nonprofit organizations who seek to integrate credit counseling and asset-building programs with free personal income tax preparation. His approach to using free credit reports as both an incentive and a screening tool for placement into asset-building programs has been shared with members of the National Community Tax Coalition, the EITC-Carolinas Initiative of MDC, Inc. and nonprofit groups across the Carolinas.
Long assists members of our armed forces in the Carolinas, Iowa, Rhode Island, Georgia and Germany with financial readiness. Please support our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors!
"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."