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Hochul announces $200 million in utility bill relief for 8 million


Thu, Feb 15th 2024 05:55 pm

Discount provided to residential and non-residential electric and gas customers; more than $1.4 billion in assistance available to energy utility customers in 2024

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the New York State Public Service Commission adopted a $200 million New York state energy bill credit to be administered by the large electric and gas utilities on behalf of their customers. The energy bill credit is a one-time credit using state-appropriated funds to provide energy bill relief to more than 8 million directly metered electric and gas customers.

Her team said, “With today’s action, more than $1.4 billion has been or will be made available to New York consumers to help offset energy costs in 2024.”

Hochul said, “Every New Yorker deserves affordable and clean energy, which is why I fought to secure additional funds to provide financial relief for hardworking families. Energy affordability continues to be a top priority in my clean energy agenda, and this utility bill credit is just one of many actions New York is taking to reduce costs for our most vulnerable New Yorkers.”

The program, proposed by the Energy Affordability Policy working group, provides that the $200 million appropriation included in the fiscal year 2024 state budget will be allocated to customer accounts through a one-time credit within roughly 45 days of the utilities receiving budget funds.

Hochul’s team said, “This utility bill relief builds on several other key energy affordability programs administered by New York state, including $380 million in energy assistance program (EAP) funding for consumers through utilities, $360 million in Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) funding, $200 million in EmPower+ funding through the state budget, over $200 million in ratepayer funding to provide access to energy efficiency and clean energy solutions for low-to -moderate income (LMI) New Yorkers through the statewide LMI portfolio and NY Sun, and more than $70 million annually through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).

Hochul’s team said, “The Department of Public Service (DPS), in consultation with the Energy Affordability Policy working group, was tasked with designing a utility bill relief program related to the costs of utility affordability programs in recognition of energy commodity cost increases and the costs of utilities' delivery rate increases. The working group considered multiple proposals over several months to effectuate the desired relief. The majority of the working group agreed to the staff proposal after several key modifications and recommended the PSC implement a one-time energy bill credit that would primarily benefit residential and small business electric and gas customers.

“The Energy Affordability Policy working group is made up of leading consumer groups and advocates, municipalities, relevant state agencies, and utilities in New York.”

PSC Chair Rory M. Christian said, “We applaud Gov. Hochul for continuing to address the high cost of utility bills in New York state head on. While global commodity price volatility and utility delivery rate requests for increases, the governor's new and innovative energy affordability initiatives are coming at exactly the right time."

Public Utility Law Project Executive Director and Counsel Laurie Wheelock said, “PULP extends our sincere gratitude to Gov. Hochul and the State Legislature for the allocation of a historic $200 million in the FY 2023-24 state budget to address energy affordability. PULP and other stakeholders, including the Department of Public Service, joint utilities, and fellow consumer advocates, worked together to put forward a proposal that would provide relief to customers. The commission’s decision today underscores a shared commitment to find ways to aid all New Yorkers, including our most vulnerable households, facing rising utility costs and volatile electric and natural gas prices. As we celebrate this milestone, PULP remains committed to identifying and advocating for additional measures to ensure energy is affordable in 2024 and beyond.”

In addition to the energy bill credit funds and EmPower+, New York state programs offer funding and technical assistance that can assist homeowners, renters and businesses manage their energy needs. This includes:

•Apply for HEAP: As of Nov. 1, applications were being accepted for the Home Energy Assistance Program, which can provide up to $976 to eligible homeowners and renters depending on income, household size and how they heat their home (e.g., family of four with a maximum monthly gross income of $5,838 can qualify). For more information, visit NYS HEAP.

•Energy affordability program/low-income bill discount program: This program provides income-eligible consumers with a discount on their monthly electric and/or gas bills, as well as other benefits, depending on the characteristics of the particular utility's program. New Yorkers can be enrolled automatically if they receive benefits from a government assistance program. For more information, they should visit their utility website, or links can be found at DPS winter preparedness.

•Community-based service programs: Service organizations and local community agencies provide financial aid, counseling services and assistance with utility emergencies. New Yorkers can contact organizations such as the American Red Cross (800-733-2767), Salvation Army (800-728-7825) and United Way (2-1-1 or 888-774-7633) to learn more.

•Receive a customized list of energy-related assistance in the state: New York Energy Advisor can help income-eligible New Yorkers locate programs that help them spend less on energy and create healthier and more comfortable spaces. With New York Energy Advisor, consumers answer questions and get connected with energy-saving offers in New York. Sponsored by NYSERDA and utilities, qualified New Yorkers can get help paying utility bills, receive special offers on heating assistance, and more.

•EmPower+: Income-eligible households can receive a home energy assessment and no-cost energy efficiency upgrades through the EmPower+ program, administered by NYSERDA. Get more information about the program, including information on how to apply at https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/EmPower-New-York-Program.

•Weatherization Assistance Program: Administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal, WAP provides income-eligible households with no-cost weatherization services. Rental properties can also be served, though there are additional requirements for owners of rental properties. For more information on WAP, including how to apply, visit https://hcr.ny.gov/weatherization-applicants.

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