National Grid offers payment assistance for CNYers struggling with increased energy bills

Published 04/26 2014 12:12AM

Updated 04/26 2014 12:45AM

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - As Central New Yorkers continue to deal with high National Grid bills stemming from this year's harsh winter, the company is taking action to help thousands across the area.

State regulators have approved an emergency relief program for National Grid customers bringing in at least $6 million in bill credits to Central New Yorkers.

In the past two months, Kayla Kalin's National Grid bill has more than doubled, making it the highest she's seen in the past 10 years.

"For my loft I've been paying more than $300 which is a lot for one person and I didn't have that money set aside so you have to cut back on a lot of things," said Kalin.

It's an issue thousands of homeowners are dealing with.

National Grid says it's Upstate New York customers experienced severe and pervasive winter weather resulting in one of the coldest winters on record - January, February and March commodity prices were 122 percent higher than last year, which increased customers' bills.

"The sustained cold weather started in January and that affected the energy supply cost," said Virginia Limmiatis of National Grid.

Supply costs make up about 50 percent of your bill. It's set at a market rate, which National Grid has no control over.

The company only profits on about 40 percent of your bill, which is a set delivery rate to get energy to your home. The remaining 10 percent are taxes and surcharges that go to state and local municipalities.

National Grid says most people won't see their bills go down until June. But National Grid filed a proposal with the Public Service Commission to get emergency relief for eligible customers.

That relief will come in three different parts, which will help about 110,000 low-income people in Upstate New York.

About 4,000 customers participating in National Grid's AffordAbility program will receive a one-time incremental arrears forgiveness of $250.

The estimated 110,000 customers enrolled in National Grid's Low-Income Discount Program will receive a one-time bill credit of $20. The credits will be applied to customer bills in May.

National Grid has also made a corporate contribution of $1 million to reopen its Care and Share program to provide financial assistance to approximately 6,000 low-income electric customers who are facing disconnection with grants of up to $250.  

And for those who don't qualify as low-income, there is still help available.

The company has a Budget Billing Plan, which will spread payments out evenly across the year.

Another option is the company's Energy Efficiency Programs that include offers and rebates to help lower energy costs.

There's also the Deferred Payment Agreement Program and the Consumer Advocacy Program, helping customers experiencing financial hardship.

For available billing and payment options through National Grid, click here

You can find information on National Grid’s Budget Billing Plan here.

To apply for Care & Share:
HeartShare will have intake centers across Upstate New York with personnel available to accept customer applications. If an intake center is not available in a customer's area, customers should contact HeartShare directly. Customers are urged to contact HeartShare toll free at 1(855) 852-2736 or (855-85CareNY) to hear a list that provides callers with agencies where customers can apply in person.

To apply for Care & Share by telephone, in an area where there is no local agency accepting applications, customers are urged to contact: (718) 422-4207 or (718) 422-4228 and someone at HeartShare will take their application over the phone.

Care & Share information can also be found on the HeartShare Human Services of New York website.

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