The MA winter moratorium is in effect from November 15 through March 15. Utilities may not be shut off during this time under certain conditions, even if bills can’t be paid.
Last-reviewed: 10am, Dec. 4, 2023
Home Energy Utilities
- Online applications for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for November 1, 2023 – April 30, 2024 opened on October 1, 2023.
- Learn more about when individuals are protected from having their utilities shut off here.
- MA residents can apply for help paying their utility costs. Use this tool to find the appropriate regional agency and view income limits for eligibility by region based on household size.
- MA residents can apply for fuel assistance (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or “LIHEAP” funds) to help pay utility bills during the winter season by calling their local Community Assistance Program (CAP). The program usually runs from November 1 through April 30. Eligible households can also apply in person at their local agency.
- At least one member of a household must have lawful immigration status for the household to be eligible for fuel assistance.
- Residents can also contact their utility company to see if they are eligible for a payment plan or Arrearage Management Program (AMP).
- Once utility customers are approved for fuel assistance, they will be eligible for a low-income discount (LID). Some gas and electric companies offer the discount retroactive to 11/1/2020. Importantly, utility customers cannot request the retroactive LID themselves; an advocate or representative must call the utility company’s customer service line on their behalf to make this request! Retroactive discounts are also at the utility company’s discretion – they are not a legal right.
- Utility customers who are on the low-income discounted rate are eligible to have varying amounts of debt forgiven if they pay 12 current monthly bills. Any low-income customer is eligible to enroll or re-enroll in an Arrearage Management Plan (AMP) program. Information is available directly from utility companies. Local CAP Agencies may be able to help with AMP enrollment questions.
- A Massachusetts household with income up to 60% of area median income qualifies as having “financial hardship” and is eligible for shut-off protection. Find information about paying your utility bills here.
- Limited income households may want to contact The Good Neighbor Energy Fund operated by local Salvation Army offices: 1-800-334-3047 or 1-800-262-1320.
- Eversource offers guidance for customers who may be behind on their bill with respect to payment plans and other ways to reduce their energy use and bills.
- Eversource and National Grid prepared a webinar with information about discount rates, grants, payments, and other offers.
- The Joe-4-Oil Heat Program offers eligible households a one-time delivery per heating season of 100 gallons of home heating oil at no charge. To apply for assistance, call 877-563-4645.
The Bottom Line
- MA residents can contact their regional agency or local fuel assistance organization to see if they are eligible for fuel assistance to help cover utility payments.
- Learn more about payment programs and utility discounts here.
- Action alert: In case of any threats, but especially if municipal electric and gas companies threaten service disconnection, please inform the fuel program at the neighborhood CAP Agency and ask them to alert the National Consumer Law Center, which is tracking this concern.
Telephone & Internet
- The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a federal benefit that helps pay for internet service. All SNAP households are eligible, as well as many other low-income residents. Twenty leading internet providers will offer ACP-eligible households a high-speed internet plan for no more than $30/month and a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. Eligible families who use their ACP benefit with one of these plans can receive high-speed internet at no cost. More information on the ACP can be found at getinternet.gov.
- The MA Department of Telecommunications and Cable has issued information about subsidized telephone, broadband, and cable services, including the Lifeline Program, which provides phone and internet service to eligible households.
- The FCC has taken action to raise awareness about the Nationwide Lifeline Program for affordable telephone or internet service, a benefit for which many consumers may be newly eligible during the pandemic. For information on how to enroll, MA consumers can visit this website.
- Contact the Attorney General’s office via the AGO’s Consumer Hotline (617-727-8400) if a consumer has difficulty reaching a service provider, or if telephone or broadband service has been shut off.
- The National Consumer Law Center offers a Water Affordability Advocacy Toolkit to help address challenges faced by marginalized communities.
- To assure no interruption in water service, customers may want to consider a payment arrangement and can submit a medical or financial hardship form. If your water is provided by a company, the company cannot shut off water service if (1) everyone in the household is age 65 or over; (2) someone in the home is seriously ill; (3) there is an infant under 1 year old in the home; or (4) the landlord is responsible for the tenant’s water bill.
- The DPU Consumer Division and the Attorney General’s Energy & Environment Bureau may be able to help if public water companies threaten or actually disconnect service.