Consumer Assistance

The Consumer Assistance staff responds to information requests, resolves consumer complaints, assesses utility compliance with consumer-related laws and Commission rules, reviews requests for waiver from the Commission’s rules for individual customers, and reviews requests from utilities to disconnect service for specific consumer accounts during the winter months.  The staff also assists utilities in designing and operating effective consumer service programs that are fair to both individual consumers and their other ratepayers.

Resources and Contact Info

What Low Income Assistance Programs are available?

Low Income Assistance Programs

Financial assistance may be available to help qualified low-income consumers with their electric, gas, telephone or water bills. Special payment plans or assistance may be also available through your electric distribution utility and local telephone provider. Funding for some State and Federal programs has been augmented through the CARES Act due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and may only be available for a limited time.

Electricity

Statewide Electric Low-Income Assistance Plan (LIAP)

The MPUC and the Maine State Housing Authority administer a statewide Low-Income Assistance Program (LIAP), which disburses more than $7 million annually to assist qualified low-income customers with their electric bills. Qualifying customers receive a credit on their electric bill that is based on their income and electricity usage. Eligibility to participate in the LIAP is based on a customer's eligibility for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Customers can apply for the LIAP either through their local Community Action Agency or their utility. A full list of CAP agencies can be found here: https://www.mainehousing.org/programs-services/energy/liheap-agency-contacts

Arrearage Management Program (AMP)

Central Maine Power Co. and Versant Power each operate an AMP that assists eligible low-income residential customers who are in arrears on their electricity bills. Customers who are eligible for LIHEAP and have an arrearage of $500 or more that is at least 90 days old are eligible to participate in the program. Participating customers will have 1/12 of their arrearage amount, up to a maximum of $300, forgiven every month that they pay their current bill on time. To enroll in an AMP, customers should contact either their local Community Action Agency or their utility.

Heat Pump Program

Maine State Housings heat pump program pays for the cost and installation of a heat pump for eligible Maine homeowners. Heat pumps are a popular and efficient tool to help heat homes in cold climates and can help save on heating costs.

Telephone-Link-Up and Lifeline Programs

The Link-Up Program provides qualifying low-income households reduced installation costs for new service hook-ups. The Lifeline program provides qualifying households with a significant credit for the basic service portion of local telephone bills or internet broadband service. These programs together help Maine lead the nation in percentage of its households with local telephone and internet broadband service. Some local phone and internet broadband companies offer these programs, others, do not. For more information on these programs, or if you think that you might qualify, contact your local telecommunications company or your local Community Action Agency. If you still have questions after speaking with these groups, contact the Commissions Consumer Assistance and Safety Division at 1-800-452-4699.

Gas

Customers of Northern Utilities, Inc. d/b/a Unitil, Bangor Gas and Maine Natural Gas receiving service under the residential heating and non-heating rates may be eligible to receive a 30% discount on their delivery and gas supply rates. The discount will apply to all customers identified by the Maine State Housing Authority as eligible for LIHEAP. Once enrolled, customers will receive the discount for 12 consecutive months.

Heating Assistance

LIHEAP

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), administered by the Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA), provides assistance to low income homeowners and renters to help pay heating costs. Eleven Community Action Programs distribute the funds throughout Maine. The program is not intended to pay for all heating costs, but to assist in paying the heating bills. LIHEAP assists those who heat with oil, propane, natural gas, electricity and other sources. Customers can apply for the LIHEAP through their local Community Action Agency. A full list of CAP agencies can be found here: https://www.mainehousing.org/programs-services/energy/liheap-agency-contacts

ECIP

The energy crisis intervention program (ECIP), part of LIHEAP, also administered by MSHA and distributed through CAPS assists customers who are in imminent danger of disconnection. Customers must have an active disconnection notice to qualify.

Weatherization Program

Maine State Housings Weatherization Program provides grants to low-income homeowners and renters to reduce energy costs by improving home energy efficiency. Maine Housing offers this program to consumers through Community Action Program agencies, who screen people for eligibility as part of the HEAP application process.

General Assistance (GA)

You may qualify for GA if you dont have the income or resources to meet basic needs for you and your family. GA can help with fuel and utilities, among other things. You can apply in person at your local municipal office. If you are unable to reach your local GA office or you have questions or concerns, call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-442-6003.

2-1-1 Maine

For those who have exhausted all resources and need assistance with utility bills, 211 Maine may be able to help find local resources. 211 Maine is a free, confidential resource that helps connect people in Maine to needed health and human services. On a limited basis, through the Keep ME Warm Fund, 211 Maine is able to provide financial assistance to low income families in emergencies.

CAD Mission Statement

The mission of the Consumer Assistance Division is to ensure that customers, utilities, and the public receive fair and equitable treatment through education, resolution of complaints and evaluation of utility compliance. At all times we will seek to develop and advocate innovative and generic approaches and methods that provide better customer service.

Within the Consumer Assistance Division, we will work as a team, and encourage self-development and self-worth. We will encourage cooperation and treat everyone with respect. We will work in partnership with the Commission to achieve our mission.

Education

We will educate and inform customers, utilities, and the public about utility related customer service issues and rights and responsibilities. We will focus on promoting understanding and preventing disputes.

Complaint Handling

We will respond to and investigate complaints between customers and utilities in a prompt, fair and reasonable manner. We will resolve disputes through mediation when we can, and we will emphasize respect between utilities, customers, and the Consumer Assistance Division. We will issue decisions that are clear and easily understood by all parties.

Evaluating and Improving Utility Customer Service Program

We will use Consumer Assistance Division contact information and other data in Commission proceedings to evaluate utility compliance with State and Commission directives and the effectiveness of utility customer service programs. We will encourage all parties to focus on preventing problems before they occur. Where customer service problems are found, we will guide parties to identify and correct their root cause.