In this Jan. 31, 2023, file photo, Peter Ellingwood delivers heating oil in Farmington. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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Well, we’ve done it again. My wife and I are sitting here with $900 for heating assistance that we don’t need. Yes, I could buy a new golf club or we could take a short trip, but that is not what the dollars are intended for. Similar to the federal assistance checks, the income cut-off is way too high and many of the dollars aren’t going to those to whom it was intended.  

Certainly, there are many Mainers that need fuel assistance this winter. But with more thought, many of the dollars could have been redirected to infrastructure needs, such as better insulation and heat pumps, that would lower long-term energy use.

So, we began shopping around to see where we could send our dollars to do the job we believe they should be directed toward. Had the state designated such a location? Was it a 501(c)(3)? Was it designed to achieve these goals? The answer is no. We checked with Efficiency Maine and the Maine Revenue Services, but no luck.

Our local representative, Laurie Osher, had anticipated this and offered alternatives to her constituents. The closest to our goal was the United Ways initiative — Keep ME Warm, but this again is fuel assistance. We’ll send our dollars on, some to fuel assistance and some to help the hungry, but with the nagging feeling that with a little more forethought these millions of dollars could have been used more wisely.

Bucky Owen