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PSEG to make customer visits about programs to avoid electric shut-offs

A PSEG truck parked in Commack.

A PSEG truck parked in Commack.   Credit: James Carbone

PSEG Long Island staffers will begin visiting customer homes Wednesday to inform those late on their electric bills about programs that can help keep their service on as a state shut-off moratorium expires in December.

Among the state-run options is an arrears forgiveness program that can erase upward of $10,000 in past-due electric charges from their accounts, PSEG said. Customers must meet eligibility requirements and the payments are available only as long as the state funding lasts.

Gov. Kathy Hochul last month announced the $150 million arrears forgiveness program, which is available to Home Energy Assistance Program-eligible households through September, 2022, said Anthony Farmer, spokesman for the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

What to know

  • PSEG LI will begin visiting customer homes to inform those late on their electric bills about programs that can help keep their service on.
  • A state shut-off moratorium expires in December.
  • At the end of September, 182,435 residential customers were 30 days or more late paying their bills, accumulating $173.4 million in arrears.

PSEG said its representatives will be visiting potentially tens of thousands of residential and business customers in coming months to tell them of government-provided energy and heating programs, encourage them to establish payment plans and even take payments if customers can pay in cash or by check.

The representatives will be following all COVID-19 safeguards, officials said, and won’t be making appointments in advance. The plan is to avoid shutting off service for nonpayment, said Kim Soreil, PSEG’s manager for customer operations, who noted the company could restart the practice of shut-offs as soon as January.

"We want customers to take action now before disconnects resume," added Brigitte Wynn, director of revenue operations. They’ll be telling customers about current and future programs such as the Home Energy Assistance Program and United Way's Project Warmth, which can help lower their energy costs. Offices throughout the state also can help customers determine eligibility for arrears forgiveness. PSEG customer visits will continue through end of the year, she said.

As of the end of September, 182,435 residential PSEG customers were 30 days or more late paying their bills, and had accumulated $173.4 million in arrears. That compares with 178,559 late-paying customers at the end of April with arrears totaling $144.7 million.

On the commercial side, 30-days-plus arrears totaled $57.6 million at September’s end for 22,975 businesses, compared with $43.2 million for 24,562 in April.

PSEG representatives will tell customers that if they attest to a pandemic-related financial hardship, they can stave off a shut-off under a moratorium approved under state law until Dec. 21. Shut-offs are not done around holidays. Customers also will have to attest to a hardship to be eligible for arrears forgiveness.

As of the end of September, about 1,226 customers attested to a hardship, compared with less than 100 in April. Around 144 small businesses have also claimed to COVID-related financial hardships. "We want customers to apply for programs [and] get the help and support they need," Soreil said.

What to know

  • PSEG LI will begin visiting customer homes to inform those late on their electric bills about programs that can help keep their service on.
  • A state shut-off moratorium expires in December.
  • At the end of September, 182,435 residential customers were 30 days or more late paying their bills, accumulating $173.4 million in arrears.

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