Power bill increases drain financesby jmaloni
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is offering tips to those who have been affected by increased electrical bills.
According to media reports and data collected from customers, electric rates for National Grid have gone up, on average, 60 to 75 percent this winter and spring, compared to the same timeframe last year. The attorney general's office continues to receive numerous consumer complaints about high electric bills.
"Hardworking New York families have enough to worry about, without having to wonder whether they'll be able to afford their high heating bills," Schneiderman said. "By arming themselves with these tips, New Yorkers will be able to avoid becoming financially drained during long and brutally cold winters like the one we just experienced."
The following are tips on how consumers can alleviate the pressure of dealing with increasing electricity rate hikes:
•Know your rights. New York's Home Energy Fair Practices Act entitles you to spread out unpaid bills in monthly installments for up to 12 months.
•If you are having difficulty paying your utility bill, call the number on your bill to request a deferred payment plan. Your power company is required to negotiate a deferred payment agreement with you based on your actual monthly income and expenses.
If you believe that National Grid is failing to provide you with a deferred payment plan, call the Public Service Commission's Consumer Services Division (800-342-3377).
•Your power company may not terminate your service for non-payment of arrears while you are working out a deferred payment agreement with the utility and the PSC.
Once you enter into a deferred payment agreement, you must pay the installment plus the new monthly bill amounts to prevent termination of your service.
If you have any questions or would like to file a complaint, call the consumer hotline at 800-771-7755.