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Heating Assistance Programs Available - Energy Assistance Forum 2022

Families of four with a combined gross income of $81,561 or less qualify for fuel assistance, according to information presented at heating forum hosted by Unitil and United Way.
Fitchburg, MA

Unitil Corporation, (, a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers throughout New England, is urging customers to become aware of fuel assistance programs that will help reduce heating costs this winter.

That was the message shared with nonprofit and community leaders who participated in an energy assistance forum sponsored by Unitil and co-hosted with United Way of North Central Massachusetts in partnership with New England Farm Workers’ Council.

The annual meeting was held earlier this year due to an uncertain global energy market that may result in higher heating cost. “We want homeowners to take proactive steps now in light of anticipated challenging heating and lighting season. For those on fixed income or tight budgets, it is particularly important to seek help when everyone is dealing with higher food and gasoline cost too. These programs will help reduce overall energy usage and cost,” Unitil Media Relations Manager Alec O’Meara said.

Norma Alvarez from New England Farm Workers’ Council, which manages the Federal Fuel Assistance program, said a family of four with a household income of $81,561or less would qualify for the program. For a single person, the income figure is $42,411. The one-time benefit, depending on income and housing type, generally ranges from $250 to $600.

According to Alvarez, homeowners and renters can apply for assistance beginning November 1. Residents can learn more about qualification guidelines for fuel assistance by reaching out to New England Farm Workers’ Council in Fitchburg at (978) 342-4520.

Unitil Credit Supervisor Sue Corson reviewed with the attendees the utility company’s budget billing program, which makes monthly utility bills more affordable by leveling out higher seasonal energy bills, which are spread out throughout the year.

In addition, customers may qualify for a discount rate on natural gas or electricity, depending on household size and income. According to Corson, the discount rate for electric customers is 34.5 percent while the natural gas discount remains at 25 percent. Unitil works with the New England Farm Workers’ Council to approve customers for the discount rate as well as other agencies that provide public benefits.

“In many cases, the actual discount which applies to 12 months of billing is often greater than the one-time Federal payment, so that is why I encourage households who qualify to apply for the benefit,” added Corson.

energy assistance forum 2022

Customers who qualify for the discount rate may also qualify for the Arrears Forgiveness Program. If the customer has an overdue balance of $300, 60 or more days past due for their gas and/or electric service and enter into an agreement to pay their current utility budgeted bills on time, they may be eligible for $4,800 in relief per service, per year on their outstanding balances.

Unitil’s Derek Kimball reviewed energy saving programs that included Mass Save’s energy efficiency programs, including income-based programs that provide no-cost or discounted energy efficiency services.

The Enhanced Residential Program, for those with a household of four members and incomes between $78,752 and $105,001, offers no-cost insulation upgrade and rebates on related projects.

The Income Eligible Program is for a household with four members whose income is less than $78,751 or for a single person less than $40,951. Applicants may qualify for no-cost insulation, replacement of heating systems, air-sealing upgrades and new home appliances such as clothes washers, refrigerators, freezers, heating systems, dehumidifiers and window AC units.

Kimball encouraged residents to contact MassSave at 1-866-537–SAVE (7267) to complete the easy, no cost income verification by phone and to learn more about the Enhanced Residential Program. For more information on qualifying for the Income Eligible Program, homeowners and renters should contact Making Opportunity Count, Inc. in Fitchburg.

More information on Unitil’s programs, including energy efficiency opportunities and assistance programs, are available at

United Way of North Central Massachusetts, which takes on the region’s most pressing health and human services challenges through diverse initiatives focused on creating opportunities for better lives for all, and Unitil have hosted the annual event for over 20 years.


Photo Captions

Teaser Image: Derek Kimball, manager of residential services for Unitil shares with the audience available energy efficiency programs.

Top Right: Kory Eng, president and CEO of United Way of North Central Massachusetts thanks the attendees for participating in the event.

In article image: Sue Corson, credit supervisor for Unitil shares with the audience available discount rates and budget billing options.

About United Way of North Central Massachusetts

The United Way of North Central Massachusetts serves the communities of Ashburnham, Ashby, Athol, Ayer, Devens, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Harvard, Hubbardston, Leominster, Littleton, Pepperell, Lunenburg, Petersham, Phillipston, Royalston, Shirley, Templeton, Townsend, Westminster and Winchendon.


About Unitil

Unitil Corporation provides energy for life by safely and reliably delivering natural gas and electricity in New England. We are committed to the communities we serve and to developing people, business practices, and technologies that lead to the delivery of dependable, more efficient energy. Unitil Corporation is a public utility holding company with operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Together, Unitil's operating utilities serve approximately 107,100 electric customers and 85,600 natural gas customers.


Media Contact

Alec O'Meara
Media Relations Manager