Payment Assistance & Programs for Low-Income Consumers

 
The State of Vermont offers a number of programs to help those consumers who may be facing financial barriers when establishing, maintaining, and/or restoring utility service. Below you will find helpful information about these various programs.
 

Public Service Board Rules

Vermont Public Service Board (Board or PSB) rules provide some protections against disconnection 1) for delinquent bills during the winter 2) if you are a tenant with an account in your landlord's name, and 3) in cases of medical emergency. Please refer to the page Your Rights as a Consumer for specific Board rules regarding protections in these cases.
 
 

Agencies Providing Financial Assistance

This section provides information regarding government and private agencies that may provide payment assistance to consumers.

 

Lifeline Telephone Service Credit Program

The Vermont Lifeline Telephone Service Credit Program reduces telephone service cost for eligible consumers. (Please note: The Link-Up Program that reduces phone service installation charges is no longer available.)

 

Programs for Consumers with Disabilities

Vermont offers consumers with disabilities several programs to help stay connected to the telephone system. Please see the Programs for Consumers with Disabilities page for more information.

 

Heating Fuel (Group Discounts)

There are several fuel-group organizations that help their members save money by jointly purchasing heating fuel at discounted rates negotiated with commercial fuel dealers. These include (but are not necessarily limited to): Energy Co-op of Vermont; Ruth Clark Fuel Group; and VHeat Fuel Buying Program (through the Vermont State Employees Credit Union).

 

Electric Assistance Program (EAP)

In 2006 the Vermont legislature passed Act 208 (H. 859), An Act Relating to the Energy Security and Reliability Act. Included within this act was a directive for the Board to “… design a proposed electricity affordability program” that would “… provide assistance in the payment of electricity bills for eligible low income residential customers.” The act further directed the Board to “… design a program that is funded by all customer classes in an equitable and reasonable manner and that results in the reimbursement of net incremental costs incurred by electric utilities to implement the program, taking into consideration the benefits as well as the costs.” 

In September 2012, the Vermont Public Service Board (in Docket 7535) approved the implementation of the EAP for Green Mountain Power (GMP) residential customers, which allows these consumers who meet the eligibility criteria to receive a 25% discount off of the first 600 kilowatt-hours (KWHs) of electricity used each month, as well as a 25% discount off of their monthly service charge. As of now, the EAP is only available to current GMP residential customers (including former CVPS customers who are currently GMP customers), whose household income is at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. The program is funded by a monthly fee paid by all GMP customers. The fee for residential GMP customers (including those on the EAP) is $1.50 per meter. 

To apply, residential GMP customers must fill out an application form and mail it along with a copy of their most current electric bill to:

DCF - Economic Services Division
Application & Document Processing Center
103 South Main St.
Waterbury, VT 05671-1500
 
For more information about the program and eligibility, please call the Department for Children and Families (DCF) Energy Assistance Office at 800-775-0516, or visit their webpage.
 

Vermont Gas Low Income Assistance Program (LIAP)

As a result of Act 136, passed by the Vermont legislature in May 2012, Vermont Gas is required to offer a low income assistance program to its residential customers. The Vermont Gas LIAP was reviewed and approved by the Vermont Public Service Board in Docket 7888 on January 15, 2013. 

The Board order requires that beginning July 1, 2013, income-eligible residential Vermont Gas customers can receive a 20% discount off of all three components of their natural gas bill: the daily access charge, the natural gas charge, and the distribution charge. The program is available to residential natural gas customers with household incomes at or below 185% of the federal poverty level. The program is funded by a monthly fee paid by all Vermont Gas customers beginning with their July 2013 bills. Residential customers will pay $1.39 per month (including those on the LIAP).

Eligibility for the Vermont Gas LIAP will be determined by the Department for Children and Families (DCF) Energy Assistance Office. The DCF has indicated that applications will be available after June 15, 2013. Please contact DCF at 800-775-0516 to obtain an application. After reviewing the application, DCF's Energy Assistance Office will notify the consumer whether or not s/he is eligible. If so, DCF will also notify Vermont Gas.