Vision & Mission
The Fuel Fund of Maryland provides financial and educational resources to vulnerable Maryland households for heat and home utility needs. Our donors, board and staff support and advocate collaborative funding and services that ensure affordable energy to our low-income neighbors who must overcome financial hardship caused by poverty and assist these individuals to meet their basic human needs.
The Fuel Fund was incorporated in 1981 as the Fuel Fund of Central Maryland, following the nation's first energy crisis during the late 1970s when an oil embargo squeezed supply, and energy prices soared. Hardest hit were those people least able to pay dramatic cost increases.
Victorine Q. Adams, a Baltimore City councilwoman and noted civil rights activist, intervened and the earliest version of the Fuel Fund was born. She was moved to do so when a couple in her council district froze to death in their home. Adams vowed that this would never happen again under her watch.
Today an integrated network of fuel funds across the nation carries on Mrs. Adam's vision.
With the onset of the deregulation of the electric utility industry, the Fuel Fund changed its name to Fuel Fund of Maryland, Inc. At every stage of the life of the Fuel Fund, its focus has been solely on the essential energy needs of individuals and families for whom energy is unaffordable.
Families who receive help always pay as much of their bills as they are able. The portion that is unaffordable is usually divided among the customer, the Fuel Fund donations and bill credits allowed by the utility. In this way, the Fuel Fund supplements the resources of each family.
Likewise, in order to use all of the resources that are available for families, the Fuel Fund refers applicants to the government-funded programs that operate out of the state Office of Home Energy Programs. Often a family receives adequate assistance from these programs. If they are still in need, the Fuel Fund helps.
The Next Chapter
In 2017, we introduced our Affordability Solutions package which allows us to continue to help our neighbors with their past due bills when they are in crisis as well as providing energy conservation education through the Watt Watchers® program to empower our clients to take control of their home energy usage.
The driving principle of Affordability Solutions is the development and deployment of dynamic interventions that address affordability for diverse segments of the low-income customer base by building on our existing strengths and resources. Through Affordability Solutions, FFM and its partners work with low-income households to significantly reduce their monthly home energy costs and usage, allowing households to continue paying their monthly costs and avoid the accumulation of unpayable balances that leads to termination of utility service and possible eviction.
Did you know that the average utility arrearage for a Fuel Fund client is more than $1,100, while the average gross household income is just $1,275? Non-payment of an energy bill is the second most common cause of eviction. Each time a household's service is terminated, the harm to the family is immense, and the cost of shelter and added medical care to taxpayers can run into tens of thousands of dollars.
In Watt Watchers® workshops, clients attend two (2) in-person workshop sessions, and are then paired with an Energy Coach. This energy expert provides individualized support, monitors progress, and recommends additional programs to reduce energy cost including home weatherization upgrades and renewable energy options. On average, Watt Watchers® graduates reduce their energy consumption by 13 percent in the first six months!
Once a client’s crisis and energy usage has been addressed, Fuel Fund will provide access to lower-cost per unit energy solutions. This is the newest area of our work, and FFM is piloting several programs in this area.
We continue to partner with a number of community-based organizations to administer the bill assistance program as needed, as well as host Watt Watchers® workshops in neighborhoods throughout Central Maryland.
Each and every day we are truly creating a brighter (and stronger) community one household at a time.