Maryland Office of Home Energy Programs: Energy Assistance
Maryland Office of Home Energy Programs: Energy Assistance: The Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) provides bill assistance to low-income households in the State of Maryland to make energy costs more affordable and ensure the stability of home energy services through several programs. The OHEP houses four grants to contribute energy assistance: the Maryland Energy Assistance Program; the Electrical Universal Service Program; the Utility Service Protection Program; and Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Services. These programs and services assist low-income customers to pay current utility bills, budget monthly affordable payments, pay past-due balances, and provide resources that work to increase energy efficiency while making home energy more reliable.
The OHEP has four separate grants to provide energy assistance to low-income households:
- The Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) assists with home heating bills through making payments to fuel suppliers and utility companies on the customer’s behalf. How much of the bill MEAP covers is based on three factors: the type of fuel used, household income, and area of Maryland where the customer lives.
- The Electric Universal Service Program (EUSP) provides monthly financing towards the customer’s electric bill. Budget Billing is a mechanism that facilitates in spreading out annual utility bills into even monthly payments to avoid spikes caused by seasonal fluctuations in energy use. The grant can make a utility bill more affordable while the arrearage component (to pay past-due bills) can be used once every 7 years to manage bills between $300 and $2,000. In eliminating past-due balances, clients become eligible to place gas and electric services in their name. The bill payment assistance grant is determined by: household income and electric use over the past 12 months. The Arrearage Retirement Assistance grant is determined by the amount of the outstanding arrearage.
- The Utility Service Protection Program (USPP) is designed in order to protect low-income families from utility shut-offs during periods of extreme heat. All MEAP eligible clients are also able to participate in USPP, with participation necessitating a year-round, even, monthly budget.
- Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Services refers customer information to the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) so that they can be enrolled in programs that can make needed improvements and repairs to homes at no expense to the client. These Improvements can help to reduce utility costs and ensure that homes are comfortable and amenable to the needs of the household. HCD’s energy efficiency and weatherization programs support the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act. For more information, call 1-855-583-8976 or visit dhcd.maryland.gov/Pages/EnergyEfficiency. Applicants are automatically referred to the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) upon completion of the OHEP application.
Energy Assistance is a year-round program and eligible customers may apply at any time during the year; but they can only receive benefits once a year and must reapply each fiscal year (July-June). A turn-off notice is not required to qualify for assistance; in fact, the OHEP strongly encourages customers to apply for assistance before receiving a turn-off notice to receive funds as soon as possible. Customers may apply online through visiting: https://mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us, or can submit applications via drop boxes, mail-in applications, telephone, or in-person at Department of Human Services offices.
OHEP has a chart which outlines income eligibility standards. Household sizes are cross-referenced with maximum monthly income standards and maximum yearly income standards. In their applications, customers must include the following:
- Copy of Applicant’s photo identification
- Proof of Residency
- Copies of Social Security cards for the entire household (including children)
- Proof of your household’s total Gross income for the last 30 day period
- A copy of your most recent Utility bill, termination notice (if applicable)
- A copy of your most recent heating fuel bill or receipt (if applicable)
Overall, Energy Assistance through OHEP programs and grants help to ensure that low-income households in Maryland can receive the help they need to pay heating and electric bills.
- Funding program