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Maine Public Utilities Commission boosts aid for electric bills

With many Mainers stressed by high electricity rates, the Maine Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday increased funding for its Low-Income Assistance Program.

The commission approved an increase of funding from $15 million to more than $22 million dollars, and also expanded eligibility to as many as 46,000 additional ratepayers.

PUC Chair Phil Bartlett says the additional money will come from the state's unappropriated surplus.

"We recognize that people are struggling, and the legislature also recognized that by allocating some additional money so that we could expand the program," Bartlett said. "So we are both increasing the eligibility, and we are also increasing the amount of the average benefit."

Mainers currently enrolled in the Low Income Heating Assistance Program will be notified of their eligibility for help with electricity bills. Those not enrolled in the LIHEAP program should contact their local community action program to determine their eligibility.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.