Easing the Burden of Increased Energy Costs

High energy prices – from the cost of electricity to home heating oil to kerosene – have made staying warm this winter difficult for many Maine families.

That’s why I proposed – and signed into law – a Winter Emergency Relief Plan to provide most Maine families with financial assistance to help ease the burden of increased costs.

This week, the State of Maine mailed the first 5,000 payments to Maine people – with thousands more to be distributed in the weeks ahead.

Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills, and thank you for listening.

We’re seeing higher energy prices because of the volatility of global energy markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and because of Maine’s over-reliance on fossil fuels.

Nearly 60 percent of Maine families rely upon oil to heat their homes, compared to just four percent nationally, making us the most heating oil dependent state in the nation. Meanwhile, the New England electric grid, which supplies power to most of Maine, is also reliant on natural gas to generate electricity.

This makes Maine people especially vulnerable to price increases driven by the global energy market.

Maine needs long-term solutions to bring down the cost of energy and reduce our dependence on expensive fossil fuels – but right now, many of our neighbors urgently need help to stay warm as temperatures drop.

No one should be forced to make the impossible choice of heating their home, or putting food on the table, or paying other necessities. That’s why in December, I proposed the Winter Emergency Relief Plan to put money back in the hands of Maine people as quickly as possible.

And thanks to bipartisan support from the Maine Legislature, most people in Maine will soon receive a $450 check to help ease the burden of increased costs.

These payments follow the same model we enacted for your $850 inflation relief checks last year, so now an estimated 876,000 eligible Maine people will receive a payment – amounting to $900 for the average Maine family, or $450 per individual taxpayer.

Following this week’s initial mailing, checks will be mailed in waves of 200,000 payments per week. For more information, you can visit Maine.gov/EnergyRelief. That’s Maine.gov/EnergyRelief.

In addition to the $450 relief checks, the Emergency Winter Relief Plan also provides:

  • $40 million to supplement the Home Energy Assistance Program; and
  • $10 million to Maine Community Action Partnerships to deliver emergency fuel assistance and prevent people from running out of heating fuel; it also provides
  • $21 million to bolster the Emergency Housing Relief Fund that I created with the Legislature last year that that prevents people from experiencing homelessness this winter.

In the months and years ahead, I look forward to working with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents in the Legislature to push for measures to bring down our energy costs over the long-term.

This includes diversifying Maine’s energy sources to reduce electricity prices and transitioning to more efficient heating and cooling technologies, and weatherizing homes. Policies like these will help our climate and will save you money, and keep Maine people warm.

Now, Maine people are used to harsh winters, but this weekend, Maine is forecast to experience an extreme cold like we have not seen in some time, with windchills as low as 60 below zero.

So please take extra precautions, be careful if you go outside, and please check on your friends, family, and neighbors to be sure they’re okay.

To find a warming center near you, please visit Maine Emergency Management’s website at Maine.gov/MEMA or dialing 2-1-1.

Please stay warm and stay safe this weekend.

This is Governor Janet Mills, and thank you for listening.