If you're behind on your electric bills, then the Arrearage Management Program (AMP) may be able to help you. This new program can help you wipe out what you owe.
The AMP can also work with you to see if there are some free or cheap ways to reduce how much electricity you use.
The program begins on October 1st.
You pay just your current monthly electric bill, each month and on time. For each month that you pay your current bill, your electric utility company will wipe out 1/12 of what you owe them on your back bill.
For example, let’s say that you owe $1200 to the company on back electricity bills. Follow these steps:
- You sign up for the AMP.
- Then you pay your regular monthly bill to the utility company.
- Each time you make that monthly payment, your utility company will forgive or wipe out $100 that you owe them on your back bill.
So by making your monthly payments on time, your $1200 debt is wiped out in one year. You pay nothing more than your current bill!
NOTE: No more than $300 of debt can be wiped out each month. So, if you owe more than $3600, you can stay on the program for more than 12 months until your entire debt is gone.
To sign up for AMP:
- You must be enrolled in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). If you are not enrolled, you must apply for, and be accepted into, LIHEAP before you can apply for AMP.
- You must owe your electric company $500 or more. Also, you must be more than 90 days late on what you owe.
- Your electric bill debt must be for your home (not a business). Your home must be your year-round home (not a seasonal home).
To stay in the program after you sign up:
- You must pay your regular monthly bill. If you do not make your regular payments, then you may get kicked off the program. You may not be able to get back on the program. So you need to pay your regular monthly bill.
- You must work with your utility company to see if there are ways you can reduce how much electricity you use. This is a free program.
You can apply for AMP when you apply for LIHEAP. If you are already in LIHEAP, you can apply for AMP directly through your electric company. If you get your electricity through Central Maine Power, they have their own online AMP application. Call your utility company and ask to sign up for AMP. Or you may be able to find the application form on the company’s website.
You may get one chance to reapply for the program. (Each electric company has their own rules about this.) You will have to make up the missed payment and pay any late fees in a reasonable amount of time. If you do that, then you will still be in the program. You won’t have to reapply and start over.
If you fall behind a second time, you will no longer be able to stay in AMP. Then you will face debt collection from the electric company and risk being disconnected. The portion of your back bill that was wiped out while you were on AMP will stay wiped out.
You can call the Consumer Assistance Division at the Maine Public Utilities Commission. 1-800-452-4699, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Or file a complaint online. This state office also fields more general questions and complaints from utility customers - not just AMP issues.