Utility Discount Rates for Low Income Consumers in Massachusetts
Low income consumers in Massachusetts whose income is within 60% of the state median income may be eligible for discounted rates on electric and gas service. M.G.L. c. 164, section 1F(4)(i) states that discounts should be available to low-income consumers who can verify that they receive a needs based public benefit (such as TAFDC, Food Stamps/ SNAP, public housing, or fuel assistance), OR if they verify that they are eligible for fuel assistance.
As a practical matter, many people who have received fuel assistance, or who are receiving public benefits administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance will be automatically enrolled for the discount rate. However, it is worthwhile for consumers to call the customer service line of their utility companies to make sure that they are indeed receiving the discount if they think they are eligible for it.
Also, consumers whose income is within 60% of the state median income should still apply for the discount, even if they are not currently recieving benefits from another means tested program. M.G.L. c. 164, section 1F(4)(ii) requires the companies to put eligible consumers on the discount rate "on demand." If needed, consumers can ask their local fuel assistance agency to verify that they are financially eligible for fuel assistance, even if they cannot actually receive the fuel assistance benefit for non-financial eligibility reasons.
Additional information about obtaining utility discount rates can be found in chapter VII(A) of the Utilities Advocacy Guide for Low-Income Households. More information about the discount rates geared for consumers can be found at MassLegalHelp.