Massachusetts Resources for Utility Bill Assistance
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Greater Boston housing market has received a lot of attention as people have struggled to pay rent and mortgages and an eviction crisis looms. People aren’t just struggling to pay their direct housing costs: many also struggle with their utility costs, including electricity and natural gas. In a policy similar to the eviction moratorium, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has ordered utility companies such as Eversource and National Grid not to disconnect customers due to non-payment. That order currently expires on July 1, 2021, but many households will likely to continue struggling to make utility payments or make up missed payments. “Energy burdened” households who spend a high portion of their income on energy costs are particularly vulnerable: the typical low-income energy burden in New England is 10.5 percent.
As the moratorium on disconnections approaches an end, there are several programs to help people struggling to pay their utility bills. Municipalities can share these resources with community members through their websites, 311, social media, and hand-outs.
Besides sharing these programs, municipalities could play a more active role in utility forgiveness by establishing or partnering with a local utility assistance program for residents impacted by COVID-19; advocate to the Department of Public Utilities and their local utility for bill forgiveness for those unable to pay; and increase funding and support for weatherization and energy efficiency programs for low-income households.
Go to MAPC’s Extreme Heat Resources page for more information and resources for your residents.
Utility Assistance One-Pagers
Municipalities can use this handout to share information on utility assistance with their residents. No need to ask MAPC's permission: just download and print! We've provided them in PowerPoint format so you can add your municipal logo or make other changes to make the resource more relevant to your community.
Click the links below to download the resource in different languages:
Resources for Homeowners and Renters
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- LIHEAP is a Federally funded program administered through the State and local energy assistance agencies/Community Action Agency that provides fuel cost assistance to eligible homeowners and renters, including those whose heat costs are included in their rent. Typically used to cover heating costs only, the State may have additional assistance available this spring/summer.
- Applications must be submitted by May 28in order to be eligible for additional assistance.
- To see if you qualify and find your local agency check out the Massachusetts Cold Relief brochure https://www.mass.gov/doc/cold-relief-brochure/download or call the Cold Relief Hotline at 800-632-8175 for more information.
Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)
- ERAP is a Federally funded program administered through the Regional Housing Administration Agencies (https://www.mass.gov/service-details/regional-administering-agencies-contact-listing). Up to $1,500 can be used for utility costs of eligible low-income rental households.
- Immigrants who may not be eligible for other assistance programs may apply.
Monthly Payment Plans and Utility Bill Assistance
Are you a Massachusetts resident in need of utility bill assistance? If you or your family are receiving support from SNAP, School Breakfast/Lunch Program, Mass Health, or other assistance programs you may qualify for a discount on your gas and/or electric bills. Both Eversource and National Grid have discounted rates for eligible customers, as well as payment assistance programs.
- Learn more about Eversource’s discounted rates here or call 800-592-2000.
- Eversource offers monthly and income-based assistance programs to Massachusetts residents who have found themselves struggling with their utility expenses. See which program is right for you or call 800-592-2000.
- National Grid’s Low-Income Discount Rate offers discounted electricity bill rates to income-eligible residents. Apply here or call 800-322-3223.
- If you are struggling to pay your utility bills, consider opting into one of National Grid’s payment plans or deferral options. Learn more here or call 800-322-3223.
If you’re having challenges with your utility, please call the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) at 1-877-886-5066 or email DPUConsumer.Complaints@state.ma.us.
Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Programs
By making improvements to your home or apartment, you may be able to reduce how much energy you use and save money on your utility bills. These long-term improvements can help you save money over time.
Mass Save: Low or No-cost Upgrades to Improve Health and Reduce Your Utility Bill
Are you a Massachusetts resident living in single family home or a 2-4-unit apartment building? You may be eligible for energy efficiency upgrades to your home that will lower your gas and electric bills. See if you qualify and schedule your free Home Energy Assessment here or call 866-537-7267.
LEAN Multifamily Program
If you live in a multifamily apartment building with 5 or more units, talk to your building manager about the LEAN Multifamily Program. The LEAN program offers no-cost energy efficiency upgrades for Massachusetts residents living in multi-family affordable housing units. Check your eligibility and apply here or call 617-348-6425.