Low Income New Yorkers Receive State Assistance to Pay Past Utility Bills, Likely to be Paid in Part by other Customers
By Yehudit Garmaise
A new utilities credit program will ensure that 327,000 New Yorkers who cannot pay their bills can cook on their stoves and turn on their lights.
Electric and gas customers who earn lower incomes and who are enrolled in the Energy Affordability Program will receive credits to pay off past utility bills, announced Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Customers do not need to take any action as utility companies will apply the credits to eligible customers' bills by Aug. 1, 2022.
To pay for the $567 million financial assistance program, New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC) will take most of the funds from a statewide Covid-19 bill, the 2023 NY fiscal budget, and utility companies that are providing a one-time credit.
In addition, utility customers who are not considered low-income, will likely pay higher rates to contribute $181 million to the program, according to Gov. Hochul.
"It's unacceptable that far too many New Yorkers are at risk of having their lights shut off for failure to pay their utility bills due to financial problems caused by the pandemic," Gov. Hochul said. "To address this, I partnered with the state legislature to appropriate $250 million toward reducing the burden of utility arrears.”
The number of customers who have unpaid utility bills and the total dollar amount of unpaid utility bills has continued to rise since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
“The pandemic placed many families in insecure financial situations, forcing so many low to no-income families to make painful decisions about whether to pay their utility bills or put food in their children’s stomachs,” Lieutenant Gov. Antonio Delgado said. “Today’s announcement will provide eligible low-income customers with the electric and gas arrears relief they need to help get them back on their feet.”