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Company to waive late fees, sponsors Jan. 26 winter savings event to connect Buffalo-area customers with bill options, affordability programs
National Grid will contribute $500,000 to support Western New York individuals and families who continue to recover from the historic blizzard that gripped the region in late December.
The funding, provided by the company’s shareholders, will go to regional charitable organizations that offer programs to directly benefit those impacted by the storm, and will establish programs to support community resilience during future emergencies.
“Our crews were on the ground before, during, and well after the storm to deliver for our customers,” said Rudy Wynter, National Grid’s New York president. “We recognized during the restoration process that recovering from the blizzard would be as much of a humanitarian effort as it would be about resolving power outages. We said at that time that we would be here long after the lights were back on to support our customers, and this is one way we are fulfilling that promise.”
National Grid worked with local, state and national partners to gain access to its facilities after the December “bomb cyclone” brought hurricane-force winds and more than 50 inches of heavy, wet snow to the region. As part of its emergency response, the company deployed more than 3,200 power restoration experts – including line, service, tree, damage assessment and public safety crews – who worked around the clock in dangerous weather conditions to restore service to the 108,000 affected customers.
A press release noted, “Caring for local communities, compassionately addressing challenges customers face and collaborating with community partners are guiding principles of National Grid’s Project C initiative, which seeks to transform communities and ensure an equitable future for all customers.”
National Grid’s donation will be distributed to the following organizations:
•FeedMore WNY will use the National Grid funds to replenish emergency food kits that the group distributes to clients across Western New York.
The press release explained, “Travel bans and dangerous travel conditions during the blizzard prevented FeedMore WNY staff and volunteers from delivering meals to clients. The conditions revealed the degree of food insecurity in the area as some clients went days without eating because of the storm.”
Colin Bishop, chief communications officer for FeedMore WNY, said, “FeedMore is grateful for the continued and generous support from National Grid and their devoted employees. Their consistent generosity enables FeedMore to realize our mission of offering dignity, hope and a brighter future by providing nutritious food, friendship and skills training to our Western New York neighbors in need.”
Bishop added that, for years, National Grid has been a longtime, reliable partner that has supported the organization’s mission and annual “Food 2 Families” food and fund drive, this year donating $10,000.
FeedMore WNY’s emergency food kits contain canned meats, fruits, vegetables, pasta, rice, shelf-stable milk, and bottled water. The organization replenished the kits both before and after the blizzard, and anticipates further demand as FeedMore WNY enrollment grows and additional severe weather events occur.
•Back to Basics Ministries responds to emergencies in Buffalo’s Black and African American communities by organizing local nonprofits to provide direct services to those in need.
The press release said, “National Grid’s donation will support the organization’s mobile response team, which provides food and essential items. The ongoing support will stabilize the communities that were most affected by the storm.”
The Rev. James Giles, founder of Back to Basics Outreach Ministries Inc., said, “National Grid has been a major partner with Back to Basics and Peacemakers in response to the blizzard. Beyond the restoration of power, they provided food and necessity items to those communities that were impacted by store closings. We appreciate immensely the level of care this utility company has shown and is showing.”
Additionally, on Jan. 26, Back to Basics will host a community resources event, sponsored by National Grid, to support low-to-moderate-income customers. Giles, who also will lead a food drive, will be joined by National Grid consumer advocates and community assistance experts from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Johnnie B. Wiley Stadium, located at 1100 Jefferson Ave. National Grid staff will answer questions, connect customers with assistance programs, offer payment options and discuss other solutions.
•The United Way of Buffalo and Erie County and National Grid will establish a community resilience fund that will address immediate, short-, and long-term needs of economically vulnerable families in the Buffalo area. Funds also will be used to assist with storm recovery and create a response network for future emergencies.
“Even as their own operations were still being impacted, National Grid was already thinking about how else they could help restore our western New York community in the wake of the blizzard of 2022,” said Trina Burruss, president and CEO of United Way of Buffalo & Erie County. “This grant, which will aid in both immediate and long-term response, is just the latest example of National Grid's longstanding commitment to Buffalo and Erie County.”
United Way partner agencies that offer services to households that are experiencing financial hardships will use the funding to provide grants from $200 to $1,000 to help clients:
√ Purchase food, medication and other essential home supplies.
√ Cover costs associated with public transportation, rideshare fares, and towing or plowing fees.
√ Pay for rental and temporary shelter costs, as well as storm-related home repair costs.
The United Way also will convene its partner agency network to create an action plan that can be implemented in future emergencies. This network includes nonprofits such as housing agencies, behavioral health providers and food insecurity charities that serve communities most severely impacted by crisis situations.
•The Western New York Chapter of the American Red Cross will use the funds to support its disaster recovery programs. This includes opening shelters and making provisions for meals to community members while their homes are being repaired, as well as providing emergency supplies, winter clothing and emergency financial assistance to families in need.
“National Grid has demonstrated time and time again their commitment to making Western New York a better and safer community,” said Nick Bond, WNY regional CEO of the American Red Cross. “Their ongoing partnership with the American Red Cross on our ‘Sound the Alarm’ program has helped us improve home fire safety and prevention in some of the most vulnerable areas of our community, potentially saving lives. And, as this latest gift in the aftermath of Winter Storm Elliott demonstrates, National Grid recognizes the importance of disaster response and preparation, and supporting organizations like the Red Cross to enable them to respond immediately when those situations occur.”
The press release noted, “American Red Cross personnel supports individuals, families and households during disasters. In advance of the blizzard, it deployed teams and positioned equipment in the areas expected to be hardest hit. As a result, the organization was able to distribute cots and blankets to municipalities and quickly open shelters with overnight accommodations and food to assist the community. The organization also has distributed hats, gloves, snow shovels and rock salt to those living in the City of Buffalo.”
Additional Support: Late Payment Fees Waived for Western New York Customers
National Grid customers who have experienced hardships as a result of the storm will have late payment fees waived by the company for bills with due dates between Dec. 23, 2022, and Feb. 20, 2023. Customers looking to take advantage of this program or establish a payment plan should call 1-800-443-1837. The company also offers flexible payment options and other bill solutions through its winter customer savings initiative.
In November, to further assist customers struggling to pay winter bills, National Grid shareholders provided $6 million in funding to establish the first targeted assistance programs for low-to-moderate income customers in New York. The new programs – the “Hope & Warmth Energy Fund” and “Hearts Fighting Hunger” emergency food assistance – will help families who are experiencing financial hardships, but just miss qualifying for the federally funded Home Energy Assistance Program. The funding also will be used to increase the company’s contributions to its existing “Care & Share” program.