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Events to be held in Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Utica
State and county agencies are partnering on a series of winter energy fairs, including three upcoming events next week in Western and Central New York.
Organizers said, “The fairs are free and open to the public. They provide an opportunity for individuals to get help with programs related to energy affordability, weatherization, energy efficiency, and services for older adults.”
Upcoming event locations are below:
To find additional fair locations, visit www.dps.ny.gov/winter and click on the outreach events link.
A press release said, “For the 2022-23 winter season, in general, electric and natural gas bills are expected to be higher on average than last year, according to the New York State Department of Public Service. An average residential electric customer using 600 kWh of electricity per month is expected to pay about $75 per month for supply. Natural gas bills are projected to be about 29% higher than last year. (Actual bill impacts will vary by utility and with the weather.)
“Individuals attending these winter energy fairs can learn more about assistance that is available for income-eligible New Yorkers to pay their home heating bills, weatherization programs, emergency assistance for individuals at risk of running out of fuel or having their utility service shut off, and other winter assistance. The fairs will also highlight additional programs and services for older adults such as nutrition, transportation, and other community-based supports provided through offices for the aging. Also, the phase one arrears relief program will continue to accept applications until Dec. 31, 2022, from low-income households not currently enrolled in their utility’s low-income bill discount program.
“County officials will be on hand at each of the locations to assist individuals in applying for programs and benefits, some of which have income or other eligibility requirements. Attendees are encouraged to bring an energy utility bill and proof if they are currently participating in an assistance program. This documentation will help assess for eligibility and assistance needs. For instance, individuals who are already receiving Supplementation Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits or related assistance may automatically qualify for other programs in some cases.
“Participating state agencies in the winter energy fairs include the Office for the Aging, Department of Public Service, Energy Research and Development Authority, Housing and Community Renewal, Power Authority, and Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.”
New York State Office for the Aging Director Greg Olsen said, “Older adults on fixed incomes are especially affected by increases in utility costs and other expenses. State programs are available to provide help, in partnership with county offices for the aging and other local agencies. Older New Yorkers and their families are encouraged to join one of these upcoming winter energy fairs where local experts will be on hand to provide direct help applying for assistance with energy costs, nutritional needs, transportation, benefits counseling, and more.”
For many of these programs and services, Olsen added, NYSOFA has a series of how-to videos that walk through the process of filling out applications. Visit NYSOFA’s website for video tutorials on how to apply for some of the most common benefits such as Medicare, the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC), the NY School Tax Relief (STAR) Program AND SNAP food assistance.
Department of Public Service CEO Rory M. Christian said, "As part of our continued consumer advocacy, these winter energy fairs are vital in connecting families with much-needed financial assistance and relief programming, utility energy affordability programs, weatherization and other actions consumers can take to be energy efficient.”
Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Daniel W. Tietz said, “New York state is committed to ensuring our most vulnerable residents have access to assistance and programs to help them cope with the higher cost of heating their homes this winter. The winter energy fairs are a great forum to learn from local experts about what help is available and how to apply.”
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “Heating oil costs are 47% higher than last year, propane costs are up nearly 8%, and I encourage all New York consumers to take steps that can help lower their home heating bills. In addition to attending one of the winter energy fairs to learn more, simple tips include calling their fuel company for supplies, seeking ways to conserve energy, and looking into home heating assistance through HEAP.”
Lisa Payne Wansley, New York Power Authority’s vice president of environmental justice, said, “Utility bills pose a financial challenge for so many New Yorkers. These winter energy fairs and other community workshops provide information about state and utility heat assistance programs and offer steps people can take to prepare their homes for winter. Both homeowners and renters can benefit from simple low- and no-cost ways of improving energy efficiency without compromising safety or comfort.”