The financial aid will appear as credits on utility bills “in the coming months,” the commission said.
Thousands of Maryland residents owe their electric and gas utilities $276 million, many because they lost jobs, work hours or income during the pandemic, the commission said. Advocates for the poor have said millions of Americans will need help digging out from pandemic-related debt for unpaid rent, home mortgages, utility bills and other expenses.
The state aid is part of a pandemic relief package passed by the Maryland General Assembly in February. It applies only to unpaid residential gas and electric bills as of June 30, the commission said.
The $83 million is expected to eliminate all electric and gas utility debt for customers who have received state energy assistance within the past four years or have a medical need for power, the commission said. The rest will go to customers whose debt dates back the longest.
The commission kept in effect pandemic-era requirements for electric and gas shut-off notices for all customers, including that termination notices be sent 45 days in advance rather than the previous 14 days.