Central Hudson Annual Essential Services Program Begins

HEAP beneficiaries receive additional credit on utility bills

Customers of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation facing financial challenges and whose utility accounts are past due will not have their electric service disconnected this winter under the utility’s annual Essential Services program and may be eligible for financial assistance.

“The Essential Services program provides the basic electrical needs of customers who are having difficulty paying their electric bills during the coldest winter months,” said Charles A. Freni, senior vice president of Customer Services. The program this season is implemented from Dec. 1 through March 15.

While the Essential Services program is in effect, an apparatus will be attached to an electric meter on a past-due account to provide sufficient energy to operate, for example, the heating system, some lights, a refrigerator and an electric stove burner on a limited basis.

“If a customer uses more than the predetermined amount of electricity, the apparatus interrupts electric service, warning that the limit has been exceeded. The apparatus can then be reset by the customer to restore service for those limited needs,” Freni said. All of the utility’s existing notification procedures, including mailed notices and telephone and field contacts, will be completed before an Essential Services apparatus is installed.

This apparatus provides essential electric service while giving the customer additional time to work out payment or other arrangements to reestablish full electric service, said Freni. “We will continue to reach out with additional programs, such as referral services to state and local agencies, that address their situation to meet their individual needs,” Freni said.

Customers experiencing a financial hardship are encouraged to apply for a Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) grant through their local Department of Social Services or Office for the Aging for senior households, he said. Eligibility for HEAP benefits is determined by income and family size; this season, for example, a family of four earning up to $49,332 per year may qualify.

Customers who are eligible for HEAP and use electricity or natural gas as their primary heating source may receive a regular benefit of $400 to $450, depending on family-income guidelines, applied to their Central Hudson account; eligible residents may also qualify for an additional Emergency HEAP benefit. “All Central Hudson customers who receive HEAP benefits toward their account during the 2012-2013 HEAP season will also be issued an credit of $11 per month on their Central Hudson bill, for a maximum of 12 months,” said Freni.

Customers heating with fuels other than electricity and natural gas may also be eligible for HEAP benefits toward their heating fuel, as well.

Other assistance programs include the Powerful Opportunities Program, to help income-qualified customers manage their monthly Central Hudson bills, reduce their past-due amounts, and learn about energy efficiency; Deferred Payment Agreements to pay past-due amounts over time; and the Good Neighbor Fund, a last-resort grant administered by the Salvation Army and funded through donations and contributions from Central Hudson customers and shareholders.

For more information on HEAP eligibility and benefits, visit http://otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/program.asp; and for more on all of Central Hudson’s assistance programs, visit CentralHudson.com, and click on “Your Home.”

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