In the late 1980s, I was a mother raising my young son in Biddeford. During one particularly cold Maine winter, I vividly remember budgeting to pay for the fuel necessary to heat our home. In fact, at that time, the oil prices spiked. I found myself unable to afford the usual full-tank request. Instead, I ordered the minimum $100 order — and hoped I could stretch it. Even so, at night, I turned the thermostat down low, moved my son’s twin-sized bed into my bedroom, and bundled both of us up in jackets, thick socks, knitted hats and mittens before we fell asleep. After that winter, I vowed never to be cold again. Because of this experience, each winter I am reminded that there are others who find themselves in a similar situation.

The reason I wanted to share this personal story with you is that I recently read about the predicted colder weather and rise in home energy costs for this upcoming winter season. Like you, I’m concerned. Although fewer Mainers are using oil and kerosene to heat their homes, six out of 10 households continue to burn fuel oil as their primary heat source. That’s a larger share than any other state in the country. Moreover, these higher costs could come as a big shock to many, especially after we saw home energy prices plummet during the pandemic lockdown in 2020. According to the Energy Information Administration, this winter heating oil expenditures will increase over 40 percent, and electricity expenditures will rise nearly 10 percent. People are already feeling pinched in their pockets while we pull out of the pandemic, and we don’t want the financial stability they’ve worked so hard for to be hurt by high heating costs.

Fortunately, there’s help. York County Community Action (YCCA) has several heating and fuel assistance programs for people who are struggling to pay to heat their homes. First, there is the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). HEAP provides money to eligible homeowners and renters to help cover their heating costs. According to YCCA, more than 2,700 individuals and families in York County heat their homes with help from HEAP. Second, there is the Electricity Lifeline Program. If you are at risk of having your electricity cut off, this program may be able to help you with a credit to your Central Maine Power bill. Finally, there is the Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP). If you are about to run out of fuel or if your electricity is at risk of being cut off, ECIP may be able to provide you with emergency financial assistance. To apply for any of these programs, or to get more information about them, please contact YCCA at (207) 324-5762 or [email protected]

No one should be feeling the cold inside their homes — not our children, our families, our seniors, or our veterans. If you think that you may need the help, then don’t wait to contact YCCA. We can stay warm this winter if we plan ahead and prepare. Let’s keep our hearts and our homes warm as we say goodbye to the fall leaves and pumpkins.

As ever, I am honored to represent you and your family in Augusta. If I can be of assistance, you can contact me at [email protected] or (207) 287-1515.

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