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Guidance for Residents Struggling with Utility Bills

Are you or someone you know having trouble keeping up with utility bills? Attorney General Maura Healey has released guidance to help you know your rights, and the resources available to you to ensure your service won't be interrupted.

Check out the Attorney General's guidance by clicking here, or keep reading here for a quick summary!

Can my utility be shut off for non payment?

Early in the pandemic, AG Healey successfully encouraged the Department of Public Utilities to issue an order preventing gas, electric and water service shut-offs for nonpayment during the ongoing crisis. This protection will be in effect until November 15 for all residents of the Commonwealth.However, this protection ended for businesses on August 31. Heating-related utilities will still be protected from shut-offs between November 15 and March 15 as part of the winter heating moratorium. However, these moratoriums do not absolve customers from paying their bills.

What should I do if I can't pay my bill?

1. Contact your utility company about payment plans as soon as possible!

Massachusetts utility companies are offering numerous financial assistance programs for residents and small businesses impacted by the pandemic, from flexible payment plans for up to 12 months to balance forgiveness programs for those eligible.

2. Look into Low-Income Assistance Programs!

Contact your utility to see if you qualify for the low income rate, arrearage management programs, or the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Eligiblity is based on the last four weeks of your income, so even if you haven't qualified in the past, you should look into these options! You can also contact Action for Boston Community Development to see if you qualify for fuel assistance.

3. Get an Energy Efficiency Audit! The AG’s Office also recommends that customers consider contacting Mass Save for an energy efficiency audit that should result in lower monthly utility bills over time. Customers also should review their monthly electric and gas bills to determine if they are receiving their electricity through their utility company or a competitive supplier. A report released by the AG’s Office in August 2019 showed that Massachusetts customers who received their electricity from competitive suppliers collectively lost $253 million from July 2015 through June 2018.

This year, the AG’s Natural Gas Fuel Assistance Grant will provide approximately $569,000 in funding to programs run through state agencies, municipalities, and nonprofit organizations that assist Massachusetts households in paying for or lowering their natural gas heating bills. Approximately one in four low-income eligible households in Massachusetts currently receive assistance on their heating bills.

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