Gov. Janet Mills is planning to release a proposal this week to provide extra help for Mainers trying to keep their homes warm this winter.

A driver with Heatable delivers oil to a home in Scarborough in 2021. Gregory A. Rec/Staff Photographer

An undetermined amount of state funds would supplement federal dollars in a season when the cost of heating oil is way up and more people have applied for heating assistance than at this time last year.

Lindsay Crete, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, did not provide details but said the proposal should be finalized this week. The Mills administration is waiting until after the state Revenue Forecasting Committee meets Tuesday to determine how much money is available.

“Broadly speaking, the proposal will aim to provide financial relief to help Maine people – particularly middle-class and low-income Maine people whose incomes are stretched thin right now – to deal with high energy prices to help them remain safe and secure in their homes this winter,” Crete wrote in an email.

She said the administration will work with Democratic and Republican leadership to craft the final proposal. The Maine Legislature will convene Dec. 7.

The federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – administered by MaineHousing as HEAP – provides money to help pay winter heating bills for those who qualify. Maine typically receives about $40 million in heating assistance, which can come in various appropriations and helps 35,000 to 40,000 households.


Last year, the state received an extra $55 million for heating assistance as part of the federal American Rescue Plan Act. But that was a one-time boost. This winter, the agency will receive about $42.5 million.

At the same time, the cost of heating oil is higher than last year, so the federal assistance won’t stretch as far. The Governor’s Energy Office reported oil prices hit a statewide average of $5.71 a gallon during the week of Nov. 14, the most recent data available. Prices have decreased somewhat since then, but the recent peak stands in stark contrast to the average during the same week in 2021: $3.16 a gallon.

Scott Thistle, spokesman for MaineHousing, said more than 33,100 households have applied for heating assistance so far this year, an 18.6% increase over this point last year. About 17,000 applications have been processed and more than $16.5 million distributed so far.

Despite the early demand, the agency has said the HEAP money should be able to serve all households that apply for the program.

Eligibility is based on income, family size and energy costs, and MaineHousing contracts with local community action agencies to process the applications. Benefits are typically paid to a recipient’s fuel provider as heating oil is used throughout the season.

“We are aware the governor’s team is putting together a proposal for additional heating help for Maine households and if this is approved by the Legislature we would work to distribute that help as quickly as we can to those in need,” said Thistle.

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