Western Massachusetts Electric, or WMECo, customers can receive financial assistance for paying bills, preventing disconnections, and restoring their service. Everything from payment arrangements to government assistance and shutoff protection plans are available.
The energy provider also partners with non-profit agencies in the western part of the state, such as the Salvation Army, community action agencies and local governments. Customer service representatives from Western Massachusetts Electric can help customers apply for the resource that is most applicable to their need.
The Good Neighbor Energy Fund is one of the programs in which WMECo partners with the Salvation Army on. This is paid for by donations, and all money raised goes to help the less fortunate pay their energy bills. Anyone who wants to can contribute to the program by using Add-A Dollar. All donations will be matched by WMECo, and the money contributed can also be deducted on your taxes as a charitable contribution. Call 1-800-262-1320 or stop by a Salvation Army center in your town or city.
If you or a member of your family is ever faced with a hardship or are struggling, then contact the company for advice, information, and help. A customer service representative will ask you a few simple questions and determine if you qualify for a payment plan. If you do, the company may be able to create a payment arrangement for you, and it will provide you with up to four additional months to pay any delinquent amount on your electric bill. Also, if you have previously entered into an arrangement but can no longer continue to pay the bills on time, it is very important that you call the company as soon as possible so that you can work with them in finding other possible solutions. Dial 877-659-6326, or if you live in Springfield MA please call 781-4300.
The federal government Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can provide grants and cash in order to help eligible low and working poor Western Massachusetts Electric households pay bills, including winter heating and summer cooling costs. Any type and amount of assistance paid out will be based on the applicant’s annual household income and the number of members in the family’s household.
Budget Billing is offered to customers of all income levels. This service “takes the surprise” out of your monthly bills and the amount of your payments that are due. It works by creating a level payment for the entire year, no matter the season. So customers can plan and budget much more accurately. This helps minimize the spikes that normally occur during the heating season in the WMECo service territory.
NUStart is required to be offered by all energy providers in Massachusetts. It helps customers to keep electricity flowing to their home, and it will help you manage your electric bill expenses. Anyone who is behind on their bills, and who has a balance that is at least $100 and is also more than 60 days past due have the opportunity to eliminate the entire past due balance on their WMECo account over the following 12 months.
If you call and sign up for NUStart, a customer service representative will need to review your account and past billing history. They will then establish a monthly budget payment amount based on the average of your regular monthly recurring electric bills. If you agree to the terms of the program, you will need to pay this amount each and every month.
The main benefit of the NUStart program and the monthly payment you make is that a portion of your past due balance on your account will be eliminated, or "forgiven”, over time. This will then in effect reduce the amount you owe to Western Massachusetts Electric on any of your past unpaid bills. Then if you remain actively enrolled in the assistance program and make your monthly payment, your electric or heating service will also not be shut off for non-payment.
There are several calculations that will need to take place when you sign up for and enroll in the program. However, in general, if you abide by the terms and remain active with it, after 12 months on the NUStart program, the past-due balance on your account will be reduced to zero.
Weatherization and conservation services are offered. WMECo partners and works closely with local Community Action Agencies in Springfield and across the region to provide valuable weatherization measures. Homeowners and renters can benefit. The programs offer help and assistance in reducing energy bills by making their homes more comfortable and also energy efficient. This weatherization program provides services to income-eligible customers, regardless of the heat source, with a focus on seniors and the very low income.
Some of the free weatherization services that are offered include sealing cracks and leaks in your windows and doors, installing compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), caulking drafts, and also installing water-saving faucet aerators and showerheads. Other updates performed by contractors include additional insulation in your home, and maybe even the replacement of your current freezer or refrigerator if they are very energy inefficient and qualify for replacement. All weatherization services are offered at no cost, and your local non-profit community action agency oversees it.
Residential customers who qualify for and meet the income guidelines from LIHEAP can try to declare a financial hardship. LIHEAP is also referred to as Fuel Assistance in the state of Massachusetts. Dial (413) 781-4300 to explore this option, which may be able to offer some additional forms of relief to qualified individuals.
For example, customers who do qualify for financial hardship may be entitled to Shutoff Protection on their account. Western Massachusetts Electric will protect your account from disconnection if you meet the hardship guidelines, which will also include one or more of the following.
The applicant also must be currently receiving some type of government or public assistance, such as MassHealth, SNAP (Food Stamps), Head Start, or Section 8, among many others. So the discount is offered for people who receive some other form of public assistance.
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