According to PUC rules, customers who can’t pay their utility bill and are at risk of not having food, medicine or heat in their households can seek a “special payment arrangement.” It is for households with incomes below 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines, or those eligible for government home energy assistance programs or Supplemental Security Income.

“There are two benefits to these special payment arrangements,” the PUC says. “First, the customer is assured that payments during the winter months will be affordable and the danger of winter disconnection is avoided. Second, as long as the customer makes and keeps a special payment arrangement, the utility is prohibited from assessing late payment charges on the overdue amount.”

Low-income customers also may qualify for help, including the Electricity Lifeline Program and Arrears Management Program.

Specific questions can be directed to the PUC’s consumer assistance hotline by calling 800-452-4699 or 207-287‑1597, or sending an email to [email protected]

Emera Maine, which provides electric service in eastern and northern Maine, also notes that customers are responsible for contacting the utility about problems with paying their bills.

“You must take the first step. Don’t let your electric bill get ahead of you,” it advises.

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