There is a new program that offers eligible customers of Green Mountain Power (CVPS) a 25% discount on their electrical bill. This is the result of a petition filed by AARP back in 2009, asking regulators to require the state’s utilities to create low-income rates to be financed by a small fee from households and businesses. At that time, we were the only northern state not providing such a program.
The Energy Assistance Program (ESP), while a statewide program, is presently available only to Green Mountain Power customers. Vermont Gas Systems is expected to have a similar program later this year. The discount is 25% off the first 600 kilowatts of energy used. This could save hundreds of dollars each year.
Individuals making $16,755 a year and couples who have an annual income of no more than $22,695 can qualify. The program is administered by the Vermont Agency of Human Services Benefits Services Center. An application and more details about the program are available at 800-775-0516 or dcf.vermont.gov/mybenefits. It is also possible to apply in person. Find their 12 locations across the state on the website or ask where the nearest office is when you call.
It is important to hurry. If your application is received by March 15th, you may also be able to get a one-time forgiveness of past-due balances.
If you qualify for this program, there are probably other benefits available to you. The Senior Help Line, 800-642-5119, is a great resource. It will connect you to your local Area Agency on Aging. These folks are your one-stop-shop for learning what other support might be available.
One of the things I always talk about with people I meet is the importance of accessing whatever benefits you are eligible for. Too many proud Vermonters struggle needlessly rather than accept the help that is available. There are two reasons I think this is a tragic mistake.
The first is because you and I pay for most of these programs throughout our working years for the very purpose of making them available for those who qualify. When we qualify, we have a right to them.
The other reason is that the best way to demonstrate these programs are needed is to use them. Maybe you or I can manage without the help, but others can’t. If they are not used to the fullest, we run the risk of losing them for all of us, including the most venerable.
Aging in Place, it doesn’t happen by accident and few of us can do it alone.