Universal Service and Bill Assistance Programs

SMECO members have access to a variety of assistance programs for paying their electric bills. If your income has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, find out about the assistance available.

Alternate Payment Plans:

  • A customer who is unable to pay for electric service in accordance with SMECO’s billing practices may, under certain circumstances, negotiate an alternate payment plan. The alternate payment plan will take into account the customer’s circumstances, financial condition, and payment history. Arrangements for alternate payment plans can be made in Account Manager, in person, or over the phone (1-888-440-3311). Payment arrangements must be made before the termination date.
  • The plan negotiated will be noted on the customer’s account record at SMECO. If the customer fails to meet the obligations agreed upon, SMECO may initiate turn-off procedures without further notice for a past-due balance.

Bill Extender Plan:

SMECO offers a Bill Extender Plan to assist qualifying residential members. You may qualify if you receive Social Security benefits or other government financial assistance as the main source of income within your household or if you are at least 62 years old. The plan automatically extends the date a current bill is due to a 32-day due date.

Members Helping Members:

If you need to apply for assistance, call the Southern Maryland Tri-County Community Action Committee at 301-274-4474, extension 286, and leave a message.

Universal Service Program:

The state of Maryland funds its Universal Service Program through charges on electric bills. Below are some frequently asked questions on the issue.

What is the Universal Service Program?

The Universal Service Program is a result of legislation bringing customer choice to Maryland’s electric utility industry. This program was created by the Maryland General Assembly, and signed into law by Gov. Parris Glendening, to help low-income electric customers. The state Department of Human Resources administers the Universal Service Program.

Who is the Universal Service Program designed for?

The Universal Service Program is available to customers whose incomes are at or below 150 percent of the poverty level. The program provides bill assistance, arrearage retirement, and help with home weatherization.

How is the program funded?

Customers of Maryland utilities fund the program through the Electric Universal Service Charge on their monthly electric bills.

How much is the Universal Service charge?

Maryland’s residential electric customers pay a flat fee of 36 cents per month on their electric bills. The Universal Service charge for commercial and industrial customers is set each year based on the amount that the customer paid for distribution service in the previous year. Electric utilities will collect the money and forward it directly to the state comptroller’s office to support the Universal Service Program.

How do I find out more?

The state Office of Home Energy Programs, a part of the Department of Human Resources, coordinates the Universal Service Program. The office can be reached at 1-800-352-1446. (For the hearing impaired, 1-800-925-4434.)

Below is information on the agencies assisting eligible Universal Service Program participants in SMECO’s service area.

Southern Maryland Tri-County Community Action Committee, Inc.

(Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties)
8371 Leonardtown Road (Old Route 5), Hughesville
1-800-255-5313
301-274-4474

Prince George’s County Department of Social Services

805 Brightseat Road, Landover
301-909-6300

This Energy Assistance card (PDF) lists the OHEP’s phone numbers, as well as the numbers of other agencies that offer assistance.

Patriot Connect:

SMECO’s Patriot Connect program is designed to help veterans and active military personnel who may be having a difficult time transitioning back into the community.

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