Unitil Corporation, (Unitil.com), a supplier of natural gas and electricity to customers across New England, urges customers to take notice of fuel assistance programs that will help lower heating costs this winter .
That was the message shared with nonprofit and community leaders who attended an energy assistance forum sponsored by Unitil and co-hosted with United Way of North Central Massachusetts in partnership with the New England Farm Workers’ Council.
The annual meeting was held earlier this year due to an uncertain global energy market which could lead to higher heating costs. “We want homeowners to take proactive action now in light of the predicted difficult heating and lighting season. For those on fixed incomes or tight budgets, it’s especially important to seek help when everyone also faces higher food and gas costs. These programs help reduce overall energy consumption and costs,” said Alec O’Meara, Unitil’s media relations director. .
Norma Alvarez of the New England Farm Workers’ Council, which runs the Federal Fuel Assistance program, said a family of four with a household income of $81,561 or less would qualify for the program. For a single person, the income figure is $42,411. The single benefit, depending on income and housing type, generally ranges from $250 to $600.
According to Alvarez, landlords and tenants can apply for assistance starting Nov. 1. Residents can learn more about qualifying guidelines for fuel assistance by contacting the New England Farm Workers’ Council in Fitchburg at (978) 342-4520.
Unitil Credit Supervisor Sue Corson reviewed with attendees the utility company’s budget billing program, which makes monthly utility bills more affordable by leveling out higher seasonal energy bills, which are distributed throughout the year.
Additionally, customers may qualify for a discount rate on natural gas or electricity, depending on household size and income. According to Corson, the discount rate for electric customers is 34.5% while the natural gas discount remains at 25%. Unitil works with the New England Farm Workers’ Council to approve clients for the discount rate as well as other agencies that provide public benefits.
“In many cases, the actual rebate that applies to 12 months of billing is often greater than the one-time federal payment, which is why I encourage eligible households to apply for the benefit,” Corson added.
Customers who qualify for the Discount Rate may also qualify for the Arrears Remission Program. If the customer has an outstanding balance of $300, 60 days or more in arrears for their gas and/or electric service, and reaches an agreement to pay their current utility bills on time, they may be eligible for relief. $4,800 per service, per year on their outstanding balances.
Unitil’s Derek Kimball reviewed energy saving programs that included Mass Save’s energy efficiency programs, including income-based programs that provide free or discounted energy efficiency services .
The Enhanced Residential Program, for those with four-member households and incomes between $78,752 and $105,001, offers free insulation upgrades and discounts on related projects.
The Income Qualifying Program is for a four-member household with income under $78,751 or a single person under $40,951. Applicants can benefit from free insulation, replacement of heating systems, air sealing upgrades and new household appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators, freezers, heating systems , dehumidifiers and window air conditioners.
Kimball encouraged residents to contact MassSave at 1-866-537-SAVE (7267) to complete the easy and free income verification over the phone and to learn more about the enhanced residential program. For more information on qualifying for the Income Eligibility Program, landlords and renters should contact Making Opportunity Count, Inc. in Fitchburg.
More information about Unitil’s programs, including energy efficiency opportunities and support programs, is available at Unitil.com.
United Way of North Central Massachusetts, which addresses the region’s most pressing health and social service challenges through various initiatives focused on creating opportunities for a better life for all, and Unitil host the annual event For more than 20 years.
About United Way of North Central Massachusetts
United Way of North Central Massachusetts serves the communities of Ashburnham, Ashby, Athol, Ayer, Devens, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Harvard, Hubbardston, Leominster, Littleton, Pepperell, Lunenburg, Petersham, Phillipston, Royalston, Shirley, Templeton, Townsend , Westminster and Winchendon.
Teaser image: Derek Kimball, residential services manager for Unitil shares with the public the energy efficiency programs available.
Top right: Sue Corson, Credit Supervisor for Unitil, shares available discount rates and budget billing options with the audience.
In the picture of the article: Kory Eng, President and CEO of United Way of North Central Massachusetts thanks attendees for attending the event.