AG's Office Awards Grant Funding to Help Residents Pay Heating Bills

AG Healey reminds residents of their rights to avoid shut-offs this winter...
Attorney General Maura Healey

Boston - With winter approaching, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today that her office has awarded more than $900,000 in grant funding to eight organizations across the state to help residents pay or lower their natural gas heating bills.

“Each winter, thousands of Massachusetts families struggle to come up with the money to pay their heating bills,” AG Healey said. “This program helps ensure that residents who are in need have the necessary funds to stay warm during the cold months.”

AG Healey’s Natural Gas Fuel Assistance Grant Program is providing approximately $915,000 in additional funding to organizations that currently assist households in paying for gas service. Each year, approximately only one-in-four low-income eligible Massachusetts households receive assistance on their heating bills. This grant program aims to help fill that void by providing assistance to families who are in need but are not currently receiving assistance or not receiving sufficient help in paying their monthly bills.

This program, which is in its second year, utilizes funds from a $3 million settlement the AG’s Office reached with National Grid for improperly charging its customers reconnection service fees. Last winter, the AG’s Office awarded $1.6 million in grant funding from the settlement to six organizations that provide fuel assistance. The remaining funds will be allocated through the grant program in the 2020-2021 winter season.

As the ratepayer advocate for Massachusetts, AG Healey works to ensure that consumers do not pay more than they should for their natural gas, and do not get their utilities shut off under certain conditions.

For consumers facing financial hardship, gas and electric utility companies cannot shut off heating service for non-payment between Nov.15 and March 15. For additional qualifications to prevent shut offs or restore service, including if you have an infant or someone seriously ill in your home, please see www.mass.gov/service-details/when-am-i-protected-from-having-my-utilities-shut-off or contact the Department of Public Utilities at (617) 737-2836.

Residents who are unable to pay an overdue gas bill because of a financial hardship and who have an income of less than 60 percent of the state’s median should contact their utility company immediately to avoid service disruption.

Today’s grant funds from the Natural Gas Fuel Assistance Grant Program have been awarded to the following organizations:

  • City of Medford: The City will continue and expand the reach of the heating assistance program it launched last year for residents who fall between 60 and 80 percent of the median income in the state.
  • Lend A Hand Society (Greater Boston): The organization will enhance its current program to assist a greater number of families in the Greater Boston area with paying their natural gas heating bills.
  • Massachusetts Association for Community Action (MASSCAP) (Statewide): MASSCAP will provide multiple organizations with additional funds to help natural gas customers participating in the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), as well as those who do not qualify for the federal program but make less than 80 percent of the state median income.
  • Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness, Inc. (Suffolk and Essex Counties): The organization will expand the reach of its current fuel assistance program to target a larger number of Native American elders and families in need.
  • The Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts (Greater Worcester, Central Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts): The organization will use the funds to renew the employment of a full-time multilingual staff member who is tasked with educating local Asian and Arabic-speaking communities about the fuel assistance agencies in Greater Worcester, Central Massachusetts, and Western Massachusetts and the LIHEAP program to maximize participation rates among underserved populations.
  • Society of Vincent de Paul District of Attleboro (Attleboro, North Attleboro, Seekonk, Rehoboth, Norton and Mansfield): The organization will provide funds to residents living in the communities it services who need assistance paying their natural gas heating bills.
  • Springfield Partners for Community Action, Inc. (Hampden County): The organization will use the funds to increase the reach of its current program that helps residents in need who do not qualify for LIHEAP.
  • United Way of Massachusetts (Eastern Massachusetts): The funds will be distributed through the organization’s Family Fund to natural gas carriers on behalf of residents who need assistance paying their heating bills.

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