An increasing number of Massachusetts families are struggling with paying their Columbia Gas bills, especially during the winter. Individuals sometimes need to decide between paying their energy bills, food, or housing expenses. So Columbia Gas offers financial assistance programs to help people pay their winter costs and there are also other services that will operate year round.
The two main government programs that are offered include Fuel Assistance/LIHEAP and weatherization. Both of them are focused on either providing cash assistance for paying your winter gas bills, or helping people conserve energy from weatherization and other means. These federal government funded programs have various restrictions that need to be met and usually only very low income Columbia Gas customers will qualify for assistance.
LIHEAP, or the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, is also usually referred to as Fuel Assistance in Massachusetts. It is a government grant program that was created to help people who are most at risk. Resources are also targeted at families that pay a high percentage of their income towards utilities.
Thousands of low-income families, seniors, individuals, and disabled can get help with paying their heating bills during the cold winter months. If your total household income falls within certain limits as well as the number of members living in your household fall with the targets set by the government, you may be eligible for direct financial assistance with paying your Columbia Gas bills.
The LIHEAP program is offered for both homeowners and renters. Some of the eligibility requirements are based on the household’s gross annual income and number of people who live in the residence. If you rent a home or apartment in Massachusetts, you may receive fuel assistance even if your heat is included in the monthly rent payment.
Customers who currently receive public aid or government assistance, such as food stamps, can apply for Columbia's Gas energy conservation services, weatherization and/or discounted Low Income Gas Rate service. These resources will provide customers with lower rates on their bills, and will in general help people save money. It is often offered at the same time as weatherization. Together these services can help people save hundreds of dollars per year on their bills. Call 1-800-882-5454 for information or an application.
More moderate income customers can apply for the Columbia Gas and Massachusetts Good Neighbor Energy Fund. This program runs across the state, and is available to any state of Massachusetts resident who can’t pay their bills due to a temporary financial difficulty or crisis.
The Good Neighbor Energy Fund may be able to help people who are not eligible for state or federal government energy assistance, such as LIHEAP which is referenced above. Your income for the previous 12 months will be reviewed, and applicants whose income is less than 80% of the regions level may qualify for financial aid. Eligibility guidelines will also be based on the number of household members, their income, and other factors.
Citizens Energy/Distrigas Heat Assistance Program (CEDHAP) can provide a credit on your bills, even for Columbia Gas customers. When it has funding, up to $150 can be applied towards natural gas bills for those low income and working poor families that have exhausted their federal government fuel assistance benefit, such as LIHEAP.
Financial aid from this resource is also offered for individuals who are ineligible to receive federal fuel assistance, as maybe their income is too high, but who cannot afford to pay their heating costs. To learn more or request an application, dial 1-866-427-9918.
Many of these resources, in particular the Good Neighbor Energy Fund, rely on donations from the community. If you can afford it, please make a tax-deductible donation to the program.
Each Massachusetts customer will receive a mint green “Gift of Warmth” envelope in their bill. Donate using that, or you can contact the Salvation Army directly. Your donation is tax deductible, and funds go straight to the Fund and not to overhead expenses. The Salvation Army will pay out the donations to people who need help. No money goes to administrative costs. Donated money will be used to help a Massachusetts family with the payment of a Columbia Gas bill.
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