Robust Programs Assist our Customers Most in Need
This article is one of a series on the major components of our upstate NY rate case
Whether it’s a loaf of bread, a gallon of gas, or our energy bills – in upstate New York, where the poverty rate is among the highest in the nation, any price increase can be staggering for those struggling to make ends meet. That makes National Grid’s Energy Affordability Program and the tireless work of our Consumer Advocates vital to many of our upstate customers.
Beginning in January 2018, our new Energy Affordability Program offers a bill decrease for most income-eligible National Grid customers. The enhanced program provides more than $70 million in benefits to qualifying customers – a more than three-fold increase over our previous program. The EAP works to ensure that eligible customers pay no more than 6 percent of their household income on their annual energy bill.
Customers enrolled in the federally funded Home Energy Assistance Program, or HEAP, are automatically enrolled in our Energy Affordability Program. Participating customers are at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level. As an example, the monthly household income for a qualifying family of four is $2,665.
Under our EAP, households with the lowest incomes and the highest energy costs receive the highest discounts. Depending on household income, family size and the presence of a vulnerable household member, electricity customers are eligible for monthly discounts between $11 and $47, up from between $5 and $15 in the previous program. Gas customers will receive discounts between $3 and $29, depending on eligibility.
To further assist our customers, our new upstate NYcomprehensive rate plan also includes:
- Increased outreach and education on energy efficiency and bill management
- Assistance for income-eligible customers to convert to natural gas heating by reducing or eliminating conversion costs through equipment rebates and no-cost connections
- New energy efficiency solutions to help moderate-income customers better manage their bills
Our goal is to increase enrollment in affordability, efficiency and gas safety programs by more than 50,000 customers across upstate.
“We’re proud of our longstanding commitment to provide proactive solutions that protect our most vulnerable customers,” said Melanie Littlejohn, vice president of our New York business. “We know these customers face substantial and serious challenges in meeting their energy needs. That’s why we have a dedicated team of Consumer Advocates who deliver grassroots programs that improve affordability, decrease arrears, and ensure that eligible customers have every resource available to help them manage their energy costs.”
By the Numbers:
According to 2016 US Census Bureau findings:
- Syracuse is 13th on the list of the top 25 cities with the highest poverty rates in the nation.
- 31 percent of Syracuse residents live in poverty – double the New York State Poverty rate of 15.4 percent.
- Buffalo is 23rd on the list of the top 25 cities with the highest poverty rates in the nation.
- Three out of every 10 residents in the city of Buffalo live in poverty.
Our Consumer Advocates:
- Assist more than 22,000 households annually
- Hosted nearly 2,000 outreach & education events and conducted more than 400 home visits across upstate New York over the last two years
- Hosted more than 33 Customer Assistance Expos in the last two years, attended by more than 1,250 customers, who learned about company-sponsored solutions and connected with 330 community assistance groups and social service agencies
- Made more than 600,000 outbound calls in the last two years alone to ensure eligible customers received HEAP and Emergency HEAP benefits
- UNY Consumer Advocates partner with over 450 community agencies – approximately 40 percent of customer referrals come from agencies
UNY Rate Case series: