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MAINE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION REMINDS GAS AND ELECTRIC CUSTOMERS OF RIGHTS, RESPONSIBILITIES AS WINTER DISCONNECT PROTECTION PERIOD ENDS

April 15, 2021

Hallowell, Maine - The Maine Public Utilities Commission (Commission) reminds all gas and electric consumers that the winter disconnection protection ends April 15 and utilities may resume disconnection activities for residential customers for non-payment beginning on April 20, 2021. During the winter season, electric and gas utilities may not disconnect utility service without express permission from the Commission's Consumer Assistance and Safety Division.

During the summer period, utilities are not required to receive permission from the Consumer Assistance and Safety Division prior to disconnecting customers. They must still, however, follow Commission rules which govern the timely issuance of disconnection notices and other procedures before a utility service may be terminated. "We know that for many, electric and gas bills have grown during the pandemic," said Commission Chair Philip L. Bartlett II. We want to remind people of the many programs available to assist them and urge them to reach out to the utility to work out a plan to address past-due balances. We expect utilities to work with customers and be flexible. If they are not, customers should contact the Commissions Consumer and Safety Assistance Division for help.

The Commissions Consumer Assistance and Safety Division can assist customers by helping them establish affordable payment arrangements with the utility or helping them find financial assistance and can be reached at 1-800-452-4699.

Financial assistance is available to eligible Maine customers through the programs listed below. Funding for some programs has been augmented through the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan and includes:

a) low-income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP) administered by the Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA), distributed through Community Action Programs (CAPS) and federally funded;

b) energy crisis intervention program (ECIP), part of LIHEAP, also administered by MSHA, distributed through CAPS and federally funded (customers must have a past-due bill or disconnection notice);

c) Emergency Rental Assistance Program administered by MSHA and distributed by CAPS for Mainers who meet certain income limits, are experiencing financial difficulty and are at risk of losing housing due to past-due rent or utility bills or eviction notices;

d) low income assistance programs (LIAP) administered by electric utilities and funded by ratepayers;

e) arrearage management program (AMP) also administered by electric utilities and funded by ratepayers, which allows eligible customers to have arrearages forgiven if they remain current on payments for a year;

f) utility assistance funds, available through some utilities;

g) municipal General Assistance funds available for basic needs, including utilities, through Maine cities and towns;

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.

About the Commission

The Maine Public Utilities Commission regulates electric, telephone, water and gas utilities to ensure that Maine citizens have access to safe and reliable utility service at rates that are just and reasonable for all ratepayers. Commission programs include Maine Enhanced 911 Service and Dig Safe. Philip L. Bartlett, II serves as Chairman, Bruce Williamson and Randall Davis serve as Commissioners.

Learn more about the Commission at www.maine.gov/mpuc


CONTACT: Susan Faloon, Media Liaison CELL: 207-557-3704 EMAIL: susan.faloon@maine.gov