March 2, 2022
Today, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is delivering additional help for low-income families to pay for this winter’s unusually high energy costs.
On Thursday, March 3, nearly 13,000 households, with roughly 42,000 people, will receive a one-time heating assistance payment of $800 to help pay for high energy costs. This assistance is focused on families with children who are currently enrolled in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and have identified heating costs as part of their household expenses.
The one-time $10.3 million cost of this support comes from TANF funding.
This complements Governor Mills’ announcement and Public Utility Commission’s approval of a one-time $90 credit for electric bills for 90,000 low-income Maine households. This $90 credit is administered to households with income below 150 percent of the Federal poverty level.
The one-time support provided by DHHS is limited to families with children in recognition that their energy costs may have been significantly higher this winter due to increasing prices and the Omicron COVID-19 surge. In January, an unprecedented number of children were home from school and child care in isolation and quarantine, along with their caregivers, requiring families to heat their homes more than expected.
The one-time payment will be provided to households already determined to be eligible through TANF and SNAP to ensure this critical assistance is delivered promptly to those in need. Among households with children, it will be further limited to those whose have indicated and verified that they pay for their own heating costs, rather than as part of their rent, for example.
The Department is providing this support for all types of energy costs, including electric bills. Electrical costs have spiked along with gas and heating oil prices. The Maine statewide average heating oil price was $3.57 per gallon at the end of January 2022. At that rate, it would require nearly $982 for one fill of a standard size oil tank of 275 gallons. This is 57 percent higher than it was at this time last year. Eligible household can access the one-time payment through electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards to help defray this cost.
More information about eligibility for this assistance is available by calling the DHHS Office for Family Independence (OFI) call center at (855) 797-4357 or visiting the OFI website at www.maine.gov/dhhs/ofi.