Governor Hochul Announces Electricity and Gas Utility Bill Credit Program for Low-Income Families

Governor Kathy Hochul announced today that a total of $567 million is available to help low-income electric and gas utility customers pay their past utility bills. The financial relief package includes an estimated $557 million statewide COVID-19 bill credit program for low-income customers adopted today by the US Public Service Commission. New York State. Under the Bill Credit Program, the PSC is leveraging $250 million in the state budget enacted for fiscal year 2023 to require utilities to provide a one-time credit to customers enrolled in the bill credit program. energy accessibility, which will eliminate unpaid utility bills that have accumulated until May 1. , 2022. The program also allows the same relief for all eligible low-income customers who enroll in the EAP by December 31, 2022.

“It is unacceptable that far too many New Yorkers are at risk of having their lights turned off for non-payment of their utility bills due to financial issues caused by the pandemic,” he added. Governor Hochul said. “To address this issue, I have joined with the State Legislature in allocating $250 million to reduce the burden of public service backlogs. Today’s action by the Public Service Commission s builds on budget appropriations and is a big step forward in helping vulnerable New Yorkers maintain their public services while they get back on their feet.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant financial hardship for low-income customers and resulted in business closures and widespread job loss. The number of customers with unpaid utility bills and the total dollar amount of unpaid utility bills has increased significantly since the pandemic began in March 2020, and this bill credit program provides financial relief to customers. most vulnerable homes to help them. prevent their utilities from being terminated for non-payment. More than 327,000 low-income New York households will directly benefit from the program.

“The pandemic has placed many families in precarious financial situations, forcing so many low-income or no-income families to make painful decisions about whether to pay their utility bills or put food in the stomachs of their children, Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado said. “Today’s announcement will provide eligible low-income customers with the electricity and gas arrears relief they need to help them get back on their feet.”

Under the Bill Credit Program, all state assistance available for assistance on utility bills will be coordinated to ensure maximum benefit to ratepayers and avoid duplication of effort. This includes helping low-income customers through the State Bureau of Temporary Assistance’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program and people with disabilities to reduce unpaid utility bills, estimated at $100 million. dollars, coupled with $250 million from the New York State Budget Appropriation for Public Services to End the Pandemic. -unpaid utility bills for low-income households. Utilities shareholders provided more than $36 million in taxpayer contributions. The on-bill credit program is estimated to cost major utility customers $181 million after they are awarded their share of the budget credit, and customer credits and shareholder contributions that reduce the cost of the program are applied.

This one-time low-income utility bill credit, which will be applied to the bills of affected utility customers, does not require action by existing low-income customers enrolled in the EAP to receive the benefit. The bill credit is expected to be applied to customer accounts by August 1, 2022. PSEG Long Island and City Utilities received $10.4 million of the $250 million allocated in the budget to be used for the program bill credit for low-income people. clients. The PSC anticipates a future proposal from consumer groups and stakeholders to address the substantial increase in unpaid electric and gas utility bills for the remaining residential and non-residential customers resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic .

As part of the overall work to reduce unpaid electric and gas utility bills, Governor Hochul recently launched a new initiative between OTDA and major utilities to identify more low-income households to enroll. to the EAP program, which offers utility bill rebates that save households hundreds of dollars a year in utility costs. Any newly eligible low-income customer who enrolls in the EAP before December 31, 2022 will be included in the bill credit program.

New York State Public Service Commission Chairman Rory M. Christian said: “Given the financial hardship many New Yorkers are facing due to the pandemic, Governor Hochul has emphasized the importance of consumer assistance policies and placed equal priority on the effective implementation of these policies. This program is innovative in design and we are very proud of the staff team to ensure that assistance will be delivered efficiently and in a timely manner to those who need it.”

The bill credit program for low-income customers is supported by the Public Utility Law Project, the Department of State’s Utility Intervention Unit, Citizens for Local Power, the American Association of Retired Persons, and the Long Island Power Authority , which oversees the PSEG. Long Island.

Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Daniel W. Tietz said: “As our state’s economy continues to rebound, one thing is painfully clear: Many low-income New Yorkers are still struggling to pay utility bills racked up during the public health crisis. In addition to providing immediate relief to households enrolled in the Energy Accessibility Program, this effort will help identify many more qualified people in need of assistance.This program, along with many others designed to provide relief to struggling households, demonstrates the Governor Hochul’s continued commitment to helping all New Yorkers overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic.

State Senator Roxanne Persaud said: “This Public Service Commission approved utility bill credit program is sure to help many customers enrolled in the Energy Accessibility Program. this year’s budget for utility arrears relief. Many New Yorkers continue to struggle to pay the utility bills that have been piling up throughout the pandemic.”

Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal said: “Families in New York State are increasingly strapped for cash, trying to pay off utility arrears accumulated during the pandemic while meeting rent and the cost of food on the table to feed their families. families. In this year’s budget, we fought hard to ensure that funds were made available to low-income families to help eliminate public service backlogs, and I am proud that the new credit on utility bills is building on this investment to provide more than $550 million in assistance. will soon see their utility arrears reduced or eliminated, protecting them from having their utilities terminated. This investment will go a long way to help New York families get back on their feet and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.