BOSTON - Attorney General Maura Healey today announced a new $3 million grant program to help Massachusetts consumers pay or lower their monthly natural gas heating bills.
“Every year, tens of thousands of Massachusetts families struggle to pay their heating bills,” said AG Healey. “My goal with this new program is to make sure our residents have the financial assistance they need to stay warm during the cold winter months.”
The Natural Gas Fuel Assistance Grant Program will provide additional funding to programs that assist Massachusetts households in paying for their natural gas service. The grant program is open to programs run through state agencies, municipalities, charitable organizations, and nonprofit organizations. Eligible programs may include those that are providing direct assistance to consumers by subsidizing their natural gas heating bills or are providing indirect assistance by helping residents implement energy-efficiency measures designed to lower their natural gas heating bills.
"Utility companies terminate gas service to large numbers of low income households each year because those customers cannot afford to pay their bills,” said Charlie Harak, a managing attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “The Attorney General's program will help thousands of households to stay current on their bills and avoid termination."
The AG’s Office is especially interested in proposals for programs that will provide funding to families who otherwise would not be receiving fuel assistance, or who are not receiving sufficient help in paying their monthly heating bills.
The grant program will utilize funds the AG’s Office secured through a settlement with National Grid for improperly charging its customers reconnection service fees.
As the ratepayer advocate for Massachusetts, AG Healey works to ensure that consumers do not pay more than they should for their natural gas. In July 2017, AG Healey joined a coalition of 35 attorneys general and state consumer advocate agencies in urging Congress to preserve and expand funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), federally funded low-income energy assistance programs.
The two-year grant program will start on Nov. 1, 2018 and will end on Oct. 31, 2020. Interested applicants can visit the AG’s website,www.mass.gov/ago/grants for more information and for application instructions. Questions about the grant program can be submitted by email to[email protected]. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Sept. 21, 2018.