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VT Approves Energy Assistance Program

On July 22, 2011 the Vermont Public Service Board approved an order that establishes an Energy Support Program that will provide electric bill assistance to the low-income ratepayers of Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) and Green Mountain Power (GMP).

Income-eligible households will save about $20 per month (25 percent) on their electric bills. The order also provides for a one-time forgiveness of pre-enrollment arrearages during the first three months of the first year of the program.

About 37,000 CVPS and GMP customers will be eligible, at 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines, for the program that will be funded by a fixed meter charge on all ratepayer bills including residential, commercial and industrial customers.

AARP Vermont has been fighting for such an outcome for more than seven years now and formally petitioned the Board on this matter two years ago after the Vermont Legislature paved the way for action by the Board.

“AARP survey research found that a strong majority of Vermonters (80percent) support a low-income energy assistance program — even it means paying a little more on their electric bill,” said Philene Taormina, AARP Vermont advocacy director.

Taormina stressed that independent evaluations of the effectiveness of low-income electric bill assistance programs in other states show that these programs reduce termination notices and unpaid bills – the cost of which is passed on to all customers.