How To Get Utility Assistance In Maryland
Do you need help paying your utility bills? Energy assistance is available in Maryland to help income-eligible residents pay their utility bills, and avoid termination notices.
Maryland Energy Assistance
Over 100- thousand Maryland households benefit from energy assistance from the Maryland Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) each year. You can too.
Getting energy assistance will not reduce other public assistance that you may receive, including but not limited to food stamps or Social Security benefits. The utility assistance does not have to be paid back.
If you need further assistance at any time, call 2-1-1 or contact a Local Home Energy Program Office.
How to get help paying utility bills
211 Maryland is ready to help you navigate the sometimes-confusing maze of assistance programs. We’ll show you how to apply, the verification documents you’ll need and common mistakes that you can avoid.
These eight steps walk you through the process of getting help paying your utility bill. Most of these steps walk you through the OHEP process. There are additional resources if you don't qualify for an OHEP grant.
211 Maryland is also here 24/7/365 to answer questions and connect you with resources.
Click on each section for detailed help.
1. Who qualifies for utility help?
First, OHEP programs are income-eligible. Until June 30, 2021, a family of four can make up to $3821 a month to qualify for utility assistance. The guidelines are based on the last thirty days of gross (pre-tax) income.
Guidelines may change. These are the latest income guidelines for help paying your Maryland utility bill.
If you don't qualify for one of these programs based on income, call your utility company and ask for a payment plan. Also, consider assistance from other organizations. You can call 2-1-1 for help.
2. Documents you'll need to apply for energy help
If you’re applying online, you can upload your documents. So, it’s a good idea to gather everything before you start your application.
You’ll need the following documents:
- Copy of the applicant’s photo identification. Note: the applicant must be the same as the name on the utility bill.
- Proof of residence (lease, mortgage statement, etc.)
- Social Security card copies for all household members.
- Proof of ALL gross income received in the last 30 days, for the household.
- Copy of your most recent utility bill or termination notice (if applicable).
- A copy of your most recent heating bill or receipt (if applicable).
3. Filling out the OHEP application.
Ready to fill out an application for energy assistance?
On the application, pay attention to the different grants. That way you know which box to check on the application. These are the OHEP grants:
- Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) – helps with heating bills
- Electric Universal Service Program (EUSP) – helps with electric bills
- Arrearage Retirement Assistance – helps with large, past due electric and gas bills
Additionally, these programs are available:
- Utility Service Protection Program (USPP) – protects low-income families from utility turn-off during the winter heating season. All MEAP eligible customers can participate in USPP.
- Weatherization programs to help make home improvements to lower utility costs.
Maryland’s Office of People’s Counsel has a quick video detailing how to fill out the application the right way. Taking the time to understand the form, the boxes you should check and any guideline rules will help you get the financial support you need.
4. Review your application for common mistakes.
Take the time to go through the application carefully, and the documents you’ll need to apply so you can get utility payment relief. There are common mistakes found on OHEP applications. Consider these questions before submitting your application:
- Is the electric bill in the same name as the applicant for utility assistance?
- Did you complete every section of the application?
- Is the application signed and dated?
- Do you have all your documents uploaded or attached to the application?
- Are all household members included on the form?
- Did you include all your income for the past 30 days?
5. Need local assistance?
There are local home energy program offices throughout Maryland that can provide assistance with the application process and qualifications.
They may be closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic for in-person assistance. Contact your local office for further assistance.
You can also call 2-1-1 and a resource specialist will connect you with energy assistance resources. Additionally, you can search the 211 Maryland database for agencies that may be able to help.
6. Check the status of your application
It can take three to four weeks to be notified of your eligibility for an OHEP grant.
Want to know the status of your application for utility help with OHEP and the amount of your grant? Check it now.
You will also get a letter in the mail, and funds will be sent to your utility company.
Wondering how OHEP makes the grant determination? It depends on the program to which you applied.
How much money will you get? It depends on the grant program to which you applied.
There are a number of factors for MEAP, including:
- Type of fuel
- Household income
- Location of your residence.
For electric service payment help or EUSP, the applications are determined by:
- Household income
- Electric use in the past 12 months
For the Arrearage Retirement Assistance, it depends on the amount you’re in arrears. The maximum award is $2,000 every seven years, with exceptions.
7. Additional option: Fuel Fund
If your grant doesn’t cover the entire cost of your utility bill and you’re still struggling to pay the balance, there may be additional options for help.
The Fuel Fund of Maryland helped more than 8,900 Marylanders last year. Their goal is to help low-income households remain self-sufficient and continue their well-being. Funds are only available once every 12 months, for BGE and bulk fuel customers.
In general, the fund helps BGE customers who have:
- an active turn-off notice or their utility services were already turned off
- Residents who applied for energy assistance since June 1st of that year
- Meet income requirements
- Have not received Fuel Fund help in the last 365 days
The fund helps Bulk Fuel customers who:
- Are nearly or already out of bulk fuel
- Need help between November and March
- Completed an application for energy assistance since July 1st of that year
- Meet the income requirements
- Have not used the Fuel Fund in the last 365 days
View all program guidelines, including income eligibility for the Fuel Fund of Maryland.
The Salvation Army may also be able to help with emergency financial assistance for utility bills among a number of other things. Services and assistance vary by Salvation Army.
8. Call your utility company to avoid a shut-off notice
Take every step you can to avoid termination. You can work out a 12-month payment plan with your utility company.
There are also assistance programs specific to utility service providers. Check with your utility company to see if they have additional financial assistance.
The energy assistance options for each utility company are provided below:
- BGE - 800-685-0123
- Pepco - 202-833-7500
- Delmarva Power - 800-375-7117
- Potomac Edison - 800-686-0011
- Columbia Gas 888-927-4427
- SMECO 888-4440-3311
- Washington Gas - 844-927-4427
Long-term utility help
Check with your utility about long-term utility assistance. You may qualify for a home energy audit, installation of energy-saving devices and other energy-saving home improvements like air sealing, insulation, door repairs and more.
There are also weatherization programs.
Find utility help near me
Dial 2-1-1 or search the database for Utility Bill Payment Assistance. You can also use these quick links for common utility searches. You'll get the latest resources available.