ALBANY, N.Y. (WETM) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Tuesday extending a moratorium that prevents utility companies from disconnecting services to residential households and small businesses struggling with bills amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The moratorium is extended for a period of 180 days after the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted or 180 days after Dec. 31, 2021—whichever comes first.
The legislation applies to electric, gas, water, telecommunications, cable and broadband services. Utility companies must offer customers a deferred payment agreement without fees or penalties on any past-due balance.
“The COVID pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on all New Yorkers, and as we get closer to the light at the end of the tunnel we must provide residents with the support they need to recover and rebuild,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement Tuesday. “Utility companies provide essential services, and we need to make sure they continue to provide them in every situation—especially to those individuals who have suffered the most from COVID and are struggling to make ends meet. That’s why New York was the first state in the nation to establish a statewide moratorium on all utility shutoffs during the COVID crisis and why we’re extending that moratorium to make sure every single New Yorker can continue to provide for themselves and their families.”
Gov. Cuomo established New York’s energy affordability policy in 2016. The policy extended energy bill support to more than 152,000 additional New York families—ensuring more than 920,000 New York families spend no more than 6% of their income on energy bills. Through the program, New York commits more than $238 million annually to help keep the lights and heat on for the most vulnerable New Yorkers, while actively striving to expand coverage to additional families.
To encourage gas and electric utilities to forgo arrears collection from eligible low-income residential customers who rent, the enacted budget also provides a dollar-for-dollar income tax credit on up to 12 months of arrears owed to the utility by those eligible customers.