Sen. Beebe-Center urges support of emergency heating relief proposal

Posted: December 22, 2022 | Senator Beebe-Center

AUGUSTA – On Wednesday, Sen. Pinny Beebe-Center, D-Rockland, submitted testimony in favor of emergency energy relief legislation before the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. The compromise Emergency Winter Energy Relief proposal would help working families and older Mainers stay warm amid freezing temperatures and an ongoing energy crisis.

“I have had countless conversations with my constituents regarding the issues that this bill aims to address: high heating costs, emergency rental relief and sending out the last of the $850 checks from earlier in the year,” said Sen. Beebe-Center. “The amount of people who are at risk of eviction or are wondering how they are going to keep their family warm this winter is absolutely heartbreaking. I believe we have a duty to assist those who have trusted us to represent them. Doing anything less would be a disservice to the good people of Maine.”

The compromise emergency legislation appeared before the full Legislature earlier this month on swearing-in day in an attempt to get individuals and families energy assistance quickly. Despite a strong, bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives, the measure failed to garner the necessary two-thirds support to pass in the Maine Senate. Sen. Beebe-Center was one of the 21 Democratic Senators who voted to enact the measure on Dec. 7.

Senate President Troy Jackson and House Speaker Talbot Ross made temporary appointments to the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee for the purpose of holding a public hearing on this proposal and getting the support necessary to pass it into law as soon as possible. After the public hearing concluded, the Committee unanimously voted to recommend that the Legislature pass the legislation.


  • Emergency Energy Relief Payment: $398 million to fund a one-time $450 energy relief payment to an estimated 880,000 eligible Maine people, amounting to $900 in relief for the average Maine family. Recipients must have filed a 2021 Maine individual income tax return as a full-time resident and not be claimed as an independent on another’s tax return. Eligible Maine people must have a Federal adjusted gross income (Federal AGI) of less than: $100,000 if filing single, if married and filing separately; $150,000 if filing as head of household; or $200,000 for couples filing jointly. Eligible Maine people do not need to take any action to receive the payment if the Legislature enacts the bill as an emergency measure. The Mills Administration expects the payments to be distributed starting at the end of January.
  • Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) Supplement: $40 million to supplement the Home Energy Assistance Program, a Federal program administered by MaineHousing through local Maine Community Action Partnerships (CAPs) that helps qualified homeowners and renters pay for heating costs, including fuel and emergency fuel delivery. The supplemental funding, which nearly doubles the amount of existing ederal funding, will allow MaineHousing to provide HEAP recipients a financial benefit equal to last year’s benefit. Without this supplemental funding, households would receive, on average, just half the heating fuel or equivalent benefit given the increased price of energy. Benefits are paid directly to heating fuel providers.
  • Emergency Home Heating Oil: $10 million to help Maine Community Action Partnerships deliver emergency fuel assistance to prevent people and families from running out of heating fuel and experiencing a heating crisis. With this supplemental funding, it is estimated that 12,500 homes may be eligible for up to $800 in emergency funds to avert a heating crisis.
  • Short-Term Housing Support: $21 million to bolster the Emergency Housing Relief Fund created by Governor Mills and the Legislature earlier this year that supports emergency housing and emergency shelters to prevent people from experiencing homelessness this winter. Governor Mills and the Legislature had capitalized the fund with $22 million earlier this year.

For procedural reasons, the public hearing was on LD 3, a piece of legislation that mirrors the compromise measure LD 1, “An Act to Provide Funding for Winter Emergency Energy Relief and to Finalize the COVID Pandemic Relief Payment Program.

The Maine Constitution requires emergency legislation to garner the support of two-thirds of elected members in both the House and the Senate. In the Senate, two-thirds of the elected Senator is 24. This emergency legislation would take effect immediately upon being signed into law by the Governor. The next scheduled session date for the Legislature is Wednesday, Jan. 4.