BERLIN - People who are alarmed by an increase on their Eversource statement this month and canâ€™t foot the bill are being urged to contact the utility for help.
The company is offering several different programs to assist residential customers, who on average are seeing about a 4.8 percent increase on their monthly statements, effective Jan. 1. Thatâ€™s when the Generation Service Charge was bumped up from 7.375 cents per kilowatt-hour to 8.391 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Residential customers charged the companyâ€™s standard service rate use on average 700 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month, which equates to a $7.11 rate increase.
The price of standard service changes twice yearly, on Jan. 1 and July 1. This latest rate will be in effect through June 30, after which, the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority must review the next electricity price change. PURA approved the latest rate increase over a month ago.
â€śItâ€™s important to note, this is a direct pass-through cost to customers for the price of power generation, with no profit to the company,â€ť Eversource spokesman Mitch Gross said. â€śLike our customers, we have no control over fluctuating energy prices, but the myriad of energy-efficiency programs we offer can help people reduce their usage, tighten up their homes and keep energy bills down year-round.â€ť
The covid-19 pandemic has led to widespread unemployment and financial strain among many who hadnâ€™t experienced it before.
Eversourceâ€™s Covid-19 Payment Program is specifically targeted towards homeowners, lessees and businesses facing a hardship related to the pandemic. That includes people who have unpaid balances with the utility as well as those who never faltered on payments in the past. The plan requires no initial down payment and is open to any customer, regardless of their ability to demonstrate financial need. The deadline for enrollment is Feb. 9 and late payment fees or interest will be waived for up to two years.
â€śWe want to help our customers enroll in the special payment plans available during these challenging times,â€ť Eversource Vice President of Customer Operations Jess Cain said in a press release. â€śParticipation in a payment plan not only helps customers by arranging affordable monthly payments, it also protects them from service disconnection. We encourage customers to contact us so we can help them determine which of our flexible payment plans or special programs would be the most helpful to them.â€ť
The New Start Program reduces or eliminates outstanding balances with smaller monthly payments.
Those who use electric heat or natural gas in their home can also apply for the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program which through a partnership with Eversourceâ€™s Matching Payment Program credits eligible customersâ€™ past-due accounts dollar-by-dollar for every on-time payment made.
Customers can call 800-286-2000 or visit www.energizect.com to learn more about these programs.
In the past, your power would be shut off for not paying the electric bill. However, company officials have agreed these times are challenging enough without getting put in the dark.
â€śWe havenâ€™t disconnected service to any customers since the beginning of the pandemic,â€ť Gross explained. â€śWe continue working with regulators, elected officials and other stakeholders to evaluate next steps for resuming service disconnections for commercial and non-hardship residential customers.â€ť
From March through November 2020, approximately 40,000 or 3.4% of the companyâ€™s 1.26 million electric customers; and 16,000 natural gas customers (7.2% out of 241,000) participated in the Covid-19 Payment Program or another financial assistance program.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.