Maine energy rebate

Daniel DiDonato, a deliveryman for Heatable, brings heating oil to a home in Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021.

(The Center Square) – Maine is getting more money from the federal government to help low-income consumers heat their homes, with energy costs expected to skyrocket this winter.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday that it is providing $4.5 billion in assistance for home heating costs and unpaid utility bills through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Maine will receive nearly $42.5 million for LIHEAP grants, according to members of the state’s congressional delegation who pushed for the additional fuel assistance.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said the funding will "help ensure that low-income families and seniors do not have to make the impossible choice between paying for heat and paying for food or medicine."

"With the average price of home heating oil currently a staggering $5.42 per gallon, it is going to be extraordinarily challenging for many Maine families to stay warm this winter," she said in a statement.

Separately, the U.S. Department of Energy said Wednesday that it will allocate $9 billion in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to states to support more than 1.6 million households in upgrading their homes to lower energy bills.

Record-high inflation, supply-chain issues and Russia’s war in Ukraine have disrupted global energy markets, driving prices for home heating oil and natural gas higher.

Homes using heating oil will spend an average of $2,354 for heat this winter, up 27% from last year, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest estimates.

Maine is the largest consumer of home heating oil in the nation, with 60% of homes using fuel oil as their main source of heat, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The Maine Governor's Energy Office reports the average cost of heating oil statewide is $4.42 – that's a more than 70% increase from 2021 prices.

Under LIHEAP, Maine residents who earn 60% of the state median income are eligible for assistance paying for fuel, electricity and weatherization upgrades. An individual with income of $20,385 or less is eligible for assistance, while the maximum level for a family of four is $41,625 a year, according to Maine Housing, which administers the program.

Last year, about 40,000 low-income households in Maine received assistance through the program, according to federal data.