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Massachusetts Public Benefit Funds for Rate Assistance

Massachusetts Public Benefit Funds for Rate Assistance

State and local agencies have negotiated low-income discounts with major gas and electric utilities as part of rate cases since 1980. In 1997, the Massachusetts legislature passed restructuring legislation that requires electric distribution companies to continue discounts to eligible low-income customers. The natural gas discounts are mandated by state regulation. By law, eligibility for the discounts must follow LIHEAP eligibility, which is currently 60 percent of state median income. All of the state's regulated electric and gas utilities provide low-income discounts ranging from 11 to 43 percent. See electric restructuring updates.

In 2006, pursuant to St. 2006, c. 140, each gas and electric company was directed to establish an Arrearage Management Program (AMP) targeted at low-income consumers with an overdue utility bill balance. (Chapter 140 of the Acts of 2005) Enrollees agree to an affordable payment plan and, in return, receive some forgiveness of their debt. At the end of 2010, there were 10,648 participants in four electric utility AMPs and 5,653 in six gas utility AMPs. During the year, the electric utilities forgave $10.8 million in arrearages; gas utilities forgave $3.7 million.

LEVERAGING

2010: $104.9 million
2009: $68.4 million
2007: $58.3 million
2006: $52.5 million
2005: $42.6 million
2004: $42.5 million
2003: $46 million
2002: $35.7 million
2001: $32.9 million
2000: $29.2 million
1999: $32.7 million
1998: $33.6 million
1997: $37.5 million
1996: $37.7 million
1995: $38 million
1994: $37.3 million
1993: $35 million
1992: $35 million
1991: $15.3 million

LEGISLATIVE CODE

1997, MA General Laws, Chapter 164, Section 1F