When you are struggling with paying your natural gas or energy bills, Columbia Gas of Maryland has several options available that may help. Some programs are offered by the government, others by non-profit agencies in Maryland, and some are provided directly by Columbia Gas.
The primary government program is the Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP), which is the states version of LIHEAP. While this is not run by them, Columbia Gas can refer people to this as well as other federal government funds and assistance programs. These various options, including MEAP, provide financial help or cash grants that can be used in paying heating bills, restoring gas service, and preventing shut-off. The funds are distributed to low income and working poor households as energy grants.
Several guidelines are in place, and they focus primarily on income level and household size. The guidelines will change with each new heating season and depend on federal funding. To learn more or apply, call the Columbia Gas hotline at 1-800-272-2714 for more information on Maryland Energy Assistance Program.
Low-Income Weatherization Program can help people save money on their gas bills. Contractors will identify your home’s energy picture, where it is not operating efficiently, and where your home could be more efficient. The contractors will then take action to seal up areas where heat escapes from your residence, and all updates are free. It is created for low-income customers who have high gas usage and utility bills that are the result of an older or inefficiency home. The goal is to help customers save money by lowering their energy use and gas heating bills by lowering their consumption and someone’s total usage. 1-800-537-7431.
Budget Payment Plans are offered to Maryland customers of all income levels, and the service is free to Columbia Gas customers. It really helps people plan more effectively by reducing the impact of winter heating bills. It accomplishes this goal by spreading your heating costs and bills more evenly throughout the year, so families will pay a fixed amount every month.
The budget plan will allow people to know how much they can expect to pay each month on their gas bills. It will spread your winter heating costs throughout a full year, and reduce the impact of increasing or decreasing natural gas prices. It also frees up money for people during the holidays as their bills won’t be quite as high during the winter.
Columbia Gas of Maryland's direct financial assistance is known as the HeatShare Fuel Fund. Qualified customers can get grants for paying their energy bills, and assistance is available to customers for use in restoring service to terminated utility accounts or paying off debts. The HeatShare fund is designed for low-income customers who are out of options, and who have used up all other available federal and private energy-assistance resources. Dial the Universal Services department at 1-800-537-7431 for information.
The Maryland Utility Service Protection Program can help prevent a disconnection of your Columbia Gas service. The program can help low-income families keep their utilities on. In addition, MEAP-eligible households may be able to enter into a payment plan with Columbia Gas. The USPP program spreads your Columbia Gas bill payments over the year.
The energy company will need to calculate your budget amount. Your energy bill assistance grant (MEAP) will be deducted from the estimated cost of your gas bill, which will result in a lower monthly budget payment on your account. If you owe any money on older, unpaid bills then a special agreement will be issued to qualified customers on the balance that is due. An equal monthly payment plan will be established, and it will generally be based on the estimated cost of the customer's annual usage and bills. They will then subtract the amount of your MEAP grant.
If you successfully enter into the Utility Service Protection Program, and if you abide by the terms of it, your gas service will not be terminated. The USPP program can also be used by Columbia Gas customers to get their service restored.
If you have received a termination notice, call Columbia Gas 1-888-460-4332 as soon as possible. The more time you provide the better chance you have to agreeing to some type of payment plan. If you call on the date of termination of your service, there are no guarantees your utilities will not be disconnected.
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