State Low-Income Ratepayer Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
The federal LIHEAP program, administered through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers assistance to low-income households who pay a high proportion of their income for home energy. In addition to this federal program, Maryland offers LIHEAP benefits through several additional programs:
Electric Universal Service Program (EUSP)
EUSP is authorized through restructuring legislation and includes current electric bill assistance, retirement of certain old bills, and weatherization services to reduce consumption of electricity. Its funding of $34 million per year is subject to annual review and approval by the PSC and the legislature. Electricity customers with incomes at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level are eligible for the program. Eligible customers may receive both EUSP and LIHEAP.
Universal Service Protection Program (USPP)
Available to LIHEAP recipients, USPP reduces and evens out monthly utility payments by subtracting the LIHEAP benefit from a customer’s yearly bill and dividing the remainder by 12 months. Those who remain on payment plans are eligible for credits from some utilities (see below).
Transitional Emergency, Medical, and Housing Assistance (TEMHA) 11
Low-income households of adult disabled persons are paid monthly with TEMHA 11 funds, of which $40 is designated for energy assistance. The program is administered by recipients’ local Department of Social Services.
Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP)
Local energy tax dollars are given in a rebate to low-income households in two counties. In St. Mary’s County, a payment of $55 is sent to MEAP households. In Prince George’s County, the MEAP grant is $72 per household.
Maryland Utilities with Low-Income Rate Assistance
Many utilities in Maryland offer deposit, reconnection fee, and application fee waivers to qualifying customers. These deposits and fees can be in the hundreds of dollars, so the waivers can represent a significant savings for low-income customers. The programs are administered under different names—the Customer Assistance Maintenance Program (CAMP) at BGE, Residential Aid Discount (RAD) at Pepco, and Residential Essential Service (RES) at Washington Gas—but the services are often similar.
Maryland Utilities with Low-Income Energy Efficiency Resources
In addition to direct bill and fee financial assistance, several Maryland utilities offer energy efficiency assistance programs to help low-income customers reduce their bills by consuming electricity or gas more efficiently. Columbia Gas offers its Low Income Weatherization Program, and BGE customers receiving MEAP or EUSP may receive a home energy audit to determine efficiency opportunities.