ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)– According to a recent report from the New York State Comptroller’s Office, 1 in 8 New Yorkers had unpaid utility bills as of March 2022.
“That’s 1.2 million people with $1.8 billion dollars owed to the utilities,” stated Maria Doulis, Deputy Comptroller for Budget and Policy Analysis.
The report said 60 percent of customers in arrears are in New York City and Long Island and they comprise 68% of total amount owed.
However, Upstate New Yorkers have been struggling too. National Grid has about 250,000 customers Upstate out of 1.3 million who are 60 days or more behind on their bill.
“During the pandemic, there was a moratorium on shutoffs,” explained Patrick Stella, National Grid Spokesperson. “So for the last few years, we have not shut any customers off. That started again on May 1st, however, customers that are low income—- that we know of who we know are in the low income bracket for our use, we are continuing that moratorium until September 1st at this point.”
Those who are behind or think they will be behind on their bills are encouraged to reach out to National Grid’s consumer advocates for help.
“They work directly with customers and try to connect them with different payment options that are available to them,” stated Stella.” So like things like HEAP and community organizations that have funding mechanisms available and we have as well.”
Money was set aside in the New York State Budget and The Public Service Commission, known as the PSC, has also taken on a role to help combat this issue.
“The PSC has authorized the utilities to offer additional support to these customers who are behind on their bills to the order of $567 million dollars,” said Doulis. “That will be paid through a surcharge, a very miner surcharge to other customers on the bills.”