Governor Janet Mills has unveiled an Emergency Winter Energy Relief Plan that may provide $450 payments for qualifying residents.

Why Is This Plan Necessary?

This measure is intended to help ensure that low-income and middle-class residents can stay warm, in the midst of inflation and rising energy costs. Governor Mills says too many Mainers are being forced to decide between heating their homes and paying for other necessities, like food.

With this plan, we hope to ease the burden on Maine people by putting money back into their pockets so they can better afford these costs and by ensuring that our most vulnerable citizens are able to stay warm this winter.

It will take a 2/3rds majority vote in the Legislature to enact the proposal that would also provide money to important programs statewide.

How Will I Know If I Qualify for a Check?

If the measure is passed, each qualifying resident would receive a $450 payment, which would include an estimated 880,000 eligible Mainers. For the average Maine family, Mills says that would total $900 in relief. Eligibility would be based on income reported on each resident's 2021 tax return.

Qualification would be based on each resident's Federal adjusted gross income:

  • Filing as single or married and filing separately who earned less than $100,000
  • Filing as head of household who earned less than $150,000
  • Married filing jointly who earned less than $200,000

The media release from the Governor's office refers to 'checks,' so it sounds like the money would be delivered through the mail, as opposed to a direct deposit delivery system.

Other funds from the $474 million proposal would be divided among several other programs:

  • $40 million would help supplement the Home Energy Assistance Program (or HEAP) to ensure recipients receive a financial benefit equal to last year's.
  • $10 million will benefit Maine Community Action Partnerships for their emergency fuel assistance programs.
  • $21 million would help bolster the Emergency Housing Relief Fund, created by Governor Mills and the Legislature earlier this year that supports emergency housing and emergency shelters for people who are experiencing homelessness.

This measure, if approved by lawmakers, would also reestablish in State law a process by which the Department of Environmental Protection can waive fuel sulfur limitations, if necessary, to protect public health, safety, or welfare.

Why Are Some Older Residents Getting an Additional $500?

In addition to this, Governor Mills is also taking executive action to distribute additional heating aid to low-income older Maine residents. During the week of December 12th, the Department of Health and Human Services will provide one-time payments of $500 to approximately 13,000 households that include low-income Maine residents aged 65 and older to help them pay for their home heating costs.

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