Heating and Utility

New York State:

Does New York have a moratorium on utility shut offs?

Yes. New York has a utility shut-off moratorium for residential customers who experienced changed financial circumstances due to COVID-19. To ensure your utility is protected, contact your service provider and self certify that you have experienced changed financial circumstances due to COVID-19. The moratorium will expire on December 21, 2021.

Your utility provider must accept your self-certification and cannot require documentation of a job loss, pay cut, unemployment filing or other change in your financial situation as part of the self-certification. For residents who experienced a financial change, the new rules also require that any reconnections happen within 48 hours and that utility providers offer deferred payment agreements with no money down, late fees or penalties. The services covered by this law are electricity, natural gas, steam, landline telephone, and water.

Customers will still be responsible for paying their utility bill during and after the moratorium. Contact your utility company to arrange a payment plan to help you stay current on your bills and prevent large bills payments from piling up.

Does New York have programs to assist me in paying bills?

Yes, New York has a program called Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) that helps eligible New Yorkers pay the cost of heating and cooling their homes. All HEAP programs are income based. A family of four would need their income to be at or below $5,019 a month to be eligible. Only U.S citizens and “qualified aliens” can apply. Questions regarding this program should be directed to the HEAP Local District office. Click here to find your local HEAP office.

Cooling Assistance Benefit

Applications for this benefit opened May 3, 2021. This benefit will provide purchase and installation of an air conditioner or fan for eligible households. Eligibility and benefits are based on income, legal status, and the presence of a household member with a medical condition exacerbated by heat. To apply for services, contact your local HEAP office, which can be found here.

New Jersey:

Does New Jersey have a moratorium on utility shut offs?

The official moratorium ends on July 1, 2021, however no one will face a gas, water, or electric utility disconnection before December 31, 2021. This grace period from July 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021 is intended for customers to enroll in payment assistance plans with their utility provider. Households with school aged children needing Internet for educational purposes will also have their internet protected from shut-off until December 31, 2021.

Does New Jersey have programs to assist me?

Yes, New Jersey has several payment assistance programs for utility bills:

Universal Service Fund

This state funded program helps low-income households pay for electric and natural gas utility bills. Eligibility requirements are based on income and require that more than 3% of household income be spent on gas and/or electricity (or more than 6% of household income on electric heating). A family of four would need to make no more than $48, 470 to be eligible. USF can be reached at 800-510-3102. Applications can be filled out online, via email, or printed here.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

This federally funded program helps low-income households pay for heating costs of all fuel types and medically necessary cooling. To qualify, a family of four would need to make no more than $52,400. LIHAP can be reached by calling 800-510-3102. Applications can be filled out online, via email or printed here.

Payment Assistance For Gas and Electric

This state funded program helps low to moderate income households in crisis pay their natural and electric utility bill. A family of four would need to make between $52,412 and $123,430 to be eligible. PAGE can be reached by calling 732-982-8710. For more information, click here.

Lifeline

Lifeline is a state funded program to help low-income seniors and the disabled with their electric and natural gas utility costs. Lifeline can be reached at 800-792-9745. Applications can be submitted here.

NJ Shares

This is a non-profit organization that helps income eligible households experiencing temporary financial crisis with arrears on their energy bill, broadband, telephone, and water bill. The application and full eligibility criteria can be found here.

Connecticut:

Does Connecticut have a moratorium on utility shut offs?

No, the moratorium for utility shut offs ended on October 1, 2020. However state law says that a utility service cannot be turned off if the customer is actively trying to make a payment so if a customer wants to avoid having their utilities shut off, they should call their utility company to arrange for a payment plan arrangement. Utility shut offs are also prohibited if the customer trying to appeal what the utility company requires them to pay.

How does a customer appeal what the utility requires them to pay?

If the customer can’t make an agreement with the utility company, they need to be given a report in writing, which they can appeal to the state’s utilities regulatory agency, PURA. PURA can try to work out a payment agreement with the utility company, and the customer can request a hearing.

Does Connecticut have programs to assist me?

Connecticut has an energy assistance program for qualifying residents.

Connecticut Energy Assistance Program:

Eligible households for the CEAP may have part of their cooling costs paid by the program. Accepted households to the CEAP are protected from shut-off. Eligible households must apply every year. Eligible households include:

  • Low-income customers who lack the resources to pay their utility bills;
  • Customers whose sole source of income is social security, veterans administration or unemployment compensation;
  • Customers who are head of household and unemployed if the household income during the preceding 12 months was less than 300% of the Federal Poverty Line;
  • Customers who are seriously ill or who have a household member who is seriously ill; customers whose income is below 60% of the state median income;
  • Customers whose circumstances threaten deprivation of food and necessities of life if payment of a delinquent bill is required.

Applications must be done in person at your local Community Action Agency or by mail. To determine eligibility and find the nearest Community Action Agency click here.

Connecticut also has an electricity payment assistance program based on a household’s income relative to their Area Median Income. Click here to apply.

Pennsylvania:

Does Pennsylvania have a moratorium on utility shut offs?

No, Pennsylvania’s statewide utility shut-off moratorium expired on March 31, 2021. However, special rules were put in place to help low-income residents pay their utilities.

  • For residential customers earning 250% below the Federal Poverty Line, a utility is required to offer a payment arrangement of a minimum of 5 years
  • For residential customers with incomes between 250% and 300% of the Federal Poverty Line, a utility company is required to offer a payment arrangement of at least 2 years
  • For residential customers earning more than 300% of the Federal Poverty Line, a utility is required to offer a payment arrangement for a minimum of 1 year
Does Pennsylvania have assistance programs to help me pay my bill?

Yes, Pennsylvania has a low-income home energy assistance program that helps income eligible families pay their heating or cooling bills. A family of four would need their income to be at or below $39,300 in order to be eligible. Apply online here.

Customers can also contact their utility company directly to request assistance with payments.

For customers struggling to pay their phone or internet bill, they should call their provider to see if they qualify for assistance programs.

If you need advice about your situation, contact the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project’s hotline at 844-645-2500.