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The Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) is available to help consumers who need help with paying their winter heating and/or yearly electric bills. Consumers may apply for the Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) for help with their heating bill (gas, electric or oil). Payments are made directly to your fuel provider or utility company one time per year.
In addition, consumers may apply for the Electric Universal Service Program (EUSP). This program provides assistance dollars that are applied to reduce future electric bills. The consumer is required to participate in budget billing to receive this grant. The grant is available once per program year. In addition, consumers may be eligible for help with past due electric bills provided they had not received arrearage retirement within the past seven years. To obtain more information, including the income eligibility requirements, contact OHEP. In addition, consumers may contact the Fuel Fund of Maryland. The Fuel Fund pays a portion of an eligible customer’s outstanding bill and you are responsible for paying the rest. You must have received all other government and program help first before contacting Fuel Fund. Households can receive help from Fuel Fund once every 12 months.
Fact sheet: Energy Assistance in Maryland
If you receive a termination notice, you must contact your utility to request an extension and/or a payment arrangement. Often if you contact the utility before the notice expires, the utility will try to work with you as long as you are able to make a reasonable offer to pay what you owe. You should also immediately apply for assistance from OHEP and Fuel Fund of Maryland.
The utility cannot terminate service for an additional 30 days upon notice from the customer that a customer or occupant has a serious medical condition. Upon receipt of the termination notice, if you or an occupant in the household has a serious illness and/or is in need of life support equipment, it is your responsibility to notify the utility before the termination notice expires, and before the service is cut off. The utility will require that a physician, certified nurse practitioner or physician assistant complete a Commission-approved form to certify a serious illness or the need for life support equipment. A physician or the customer may initially telephone the utility of the intent to obtain certification. However, the required certificate must be forwarded to the utility by the day before the scheduled termination date. Once notified, the utility will withhold termination for an additional 30 days. During that time, you must promptly enter into an agreement with the utility for the payment of the unpaid bills and current amounts due for service. It is important to note that the utility is authorized to pursue collection procedures (that include disconnecting your service) if you fail to adhere to the payment plan.
The utility is required to send a notice of termination to the customer at least 14 days before the date on or after which termination will occur if the termination is due to nonpayment of a bill. The utility is required to give you 7 days notice if they are terminating service because of fraud. If the utility is terminating service for a hazardous condition or tampering or unauthorized use of the service, then they do not have to provide any advance notice to the customer before shutting off power.
If your gas and/or electric service has been turned off, the first thing you should do is contact the utility to find out what they are requiring as payment to have service restored. The utility, by law, can require that you pay the entire past due bill, a reconnection fee, and part of a deposit as a condition to restore your service. If you are unable to pay the amount the utility is requiring that you pay, you should seek assistance from the Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) first. If you qualify for assistance, your Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) grant can be used to help pay off all or part of your past due bills. In addition, you should apply for the Electric Universal Service Program (EUSP). This program provides assistance dollars that are applied to reduce future electric bills. You are required to participate in budget billing to receive this grant. In addition, you may be eligible for help with past due electric bills provided you had not received the EUSP arrearage retirement within the past seven years. Finally, you should apply for the Utility Service Protection Program (USPP). As a USPP participant, you can have your service reconnected between November 1 and March 31 without paying a reconnection fee and deposit. For more information about these programs, including the income eligibility requirements, contact OHEP.
After you have applied for these grants and you still do not have enough to get the service reconnected, you should contact the Fuel Fund of Maryland. The Fuel Fund pays a portion of an eligible customer’s outstanding bill and you are responsible for paying the rest. You must have received all other government and program help first before contacting Fuel Fund. Households can receive help from Fuel Fund once every 12 months. See this link for additional program contact information.
Complaints need to be filed in writing to the PSC’s Consumer Affairs Division (CAD) and can be done so from our website. If your service is OFF, CAD cannot require that the utility restore service pending disposition of a dispute. If the service is ON, you will be required to continue to make payment on the undisputed portion of the bill while your dispute is pending with our office. If you need more information, Consumer Affairs Division staff is available to take your call Monday through Friday (except holidays), between 9 a.m.- noon and 1-4 p.m. To reach CAD, call toll-free at 1-800-492-0474, option #3 or (410) 767-8028, press #1 for Spanish or #2 for English.