Company Accelerates Low-Income Rate, Directs $3.3 Million to Operation Fuel to Help Offset Unprecedented Price Spikes from Out-of-State Energy Generation Companies
ORANGE, Conn. – Wednesday, January 18, 2023 – United Illuminating, a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR), today announced it has implemented a series of measures, including an accelerated low-income discount credit and advanced bill credit on the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant contract, that will deliver a combined $34 monthly in direct financial relief to customers facing financial hardship between January-April 2023, and help them manage the unprecedented energy supply cost increases set by out-of-state generation companies. Additionally, UI is directing $3.3 million to Operation Fuel to support the organization’s mission to provide emergency energy and utility assistance to households in Connecticut that are facing financial crisis. The measures were designed in partnership with the Administration of Governor Lamont and the Office of Consumer Counsel, and approved by the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.
“The energy supply prices set by out-of-state generation companies are driving record revenues at the expense of hard-working Connecticut families, and as a member of the communities we serve for more than 100 years, UI knows how challenging these cost increases are for our customers,” said UI President and CEO Frank Reynolds. “While we don’t have the ability to control the cost of the energy generation supply, we’re proud to work with the Lamont Administration to provide urgent, vital financial relief to our customers. As we provide this crucial assistance to ease the burden of rising costs, we will continue calling for transparency, accountability, and direct customer assistance from the generation companies that are profiting off these price hikes.”
“I appreciate our utility partners working together with the State to identify creative solutions in the near-term to provide customers with relief from significantly increased electric rates this winter,” said Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes. “I am proud of the role the Lamont Administration has played in ensuring this assistance is in place for residents this winter. Longer term, the State will continue to work to insulate residents from the volatile price swings that accompany fossil fuels by further diversifying our grid with clean energy resources and energy efficiency.”
As UI continues working to implement a long-term low-income rate program by January 1, 2024, the accelerated discount announced today will deliver $24 of direct relief monthly to financial hardship customers, or those customers at or below 60% of the state median income. The credit will be applied January-June, 2023. For more information or to become qualified, customers can visit the company website or contact UI at 800.722.5584. As UI implements the program this month, the credit may not be reflected on all customer bills, and those that miss the credit in January will receive a double credit on their February bill.
Additionally, UI will advance bill credits to fast-track the return of long-term power contract earnings from the Millstone Power Plant, delivering approximately $10 a month in financial relief to all customers. This is an automatic credit requiring no action on behalf of the customer, and will apply to bills beginning with the billing cycle on February 1, 2023 through April 30, 2023.
To provide enhanced relief to customers, UI is also directing $3.3 million to Operation Fuel for direct customer relief, with 10% of the total to help the organization manage administrative costs associated with dispersing the funds to families in need. Customers seeking financial assistance and relief can apply directly to Operation Fuel here.
“We are pleased to work with our partners at UI on solutions to help deliver much needed financial relief to their customers,” said Operation Fuel Executive Director Brenda Watson. “While we are not an ideal situation, it is refreshing to work with a company that is so committed to ensuring that their customers are able to access support. Thanks to UI’s commitment to customer service, we are also participating in their upcoming workshop series where together, we can reach more customers in need."
Following the annual, statutory procurement program, as of January 1, 2023 the Standard Service price for UI residential customers rose to 21.94 cents per Kilowatt Hour (kWh) – a bill increase impact of 43%, or average monthly increase of $79 for the typical UI residential customer as compared to Winter 2022. The Standard Service price is the cost of energy used by customers, and purchased by UI on their behalf without any markup or profit. Energy prices across the globe have increased, especially natural gas – the primary fuel in New England – due to supply chain constraints, high inflation, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. UI serves as a pass-through mechanism for these costs at no markup or profit.
To help customers better understand the programs available to help manage their bills, UI, Southern Connecticut Gas (SCG), and Connecticut Natural Gas (CNG), will hold a series of customer workshops throughout the companies’ service territory over the coming weeks. Eligible customers will be able to sign up for payment assistance, payment installments, and energy efficiency programs, and address any service issues with customer service representatives.
“Rising energy and utility costs have made it harder for many New Haven residents to make ends meet this winter, and these financial relief measures will help reduce some of that burden for lower-income families and put some money back into their pockets. I encourage New Haven residents to explore whether they are eligible and to take advantage of these programs,” said New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker. “Long-term, we need to continue to diversify our energy supply with renewable resources that can provide more reliable and predictable energy costs and help address our climate crisis.”
Workshops will take place at the following dates and locations:
||Parker Memorial Center, 2621 Main St., Hartford, CT 06120
||Wednesday, January 18,
4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
||East Side Senior Center, 268 Putnam St., Bridgeport, CT 06608
||Wednesday, January 25,
4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
||New Haven - St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 111 Whalley Ave., New Haven, CT 05=6511
Wednesday, February 15,
4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
In addition to the measures implemented today, UI is reminding those having difficulty paying their bill of the following programs the company offers to provide assistance and relief:
- Matching Payment Program – Residential customers covered by the Winter Protection Program and who heat by electricity may qualify for UI’s Matching Payment Program. If you qualify, we will work with you to develop a monthly budget agreement. If you keep that agreement, we will match your payments to reduce your back balance.
- Bill Forgiveness Program – This program helps low-income customers maintain year-round service and pay down delinquent balances by company-matched dollars. A payment arrangement plan helps qualified hardship customers pay past-due electric bills. Under BFP, if payments are current, a past-due balance can be "forgiven" over time.
- Winter Protection Program – UI offers winter protection to all our customers that qualify. If you meet eligibility requirements, we will not turn off your electricity between November 1 and May 1. The Winter Protection Plan must be renewed annually, beginning in October. To prevent your service from being shut off after May 1, contact UI to set up a payment arrangement.
- Flexible Payment Arrangements – UI will work with customers if they are having trouble paying their electric bill. UI offers flexible payment arrangements for all customers needing assistance. These arrangements can be spread out up to 18 months for residential customers and 6 months for non-residential customers. Current payment arrangements may be renegotiated due to a change in financial circumstances Per Conn. Agencies Reg. § 16-3-100(b)(3)(A). These arrangements may be discussed confidentially by calling our Customer Care Center at 800.722.5584.
- Called to Active Duty? – Customers may qualify for temporary suspension of collections action and disconnection of their electric service if they are called into active duty in the U.S. military.
- Home Energy Solutions-Income Eligible (HES-IE) – Through the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, United Illuminating administers the HES-IE program. This weatherization program is designed to help customers with limited income or financial needs reduce their energy bills.
For more information on financial assistance programs offered by UI, please visit the UI website or call 800.722.5584. For more information on Home Energy Solutions visit the UI website or call 877.947.3873.
Though many customers are on the UI Standard Service rate, some customers elect to purchase electricity directly from independent suppliers. Customers are encouraged to review their bill to make sure they know who their supplier of choice is, and the end date of their service. Customers can visit https://energizect.com/rate-board/choosing-a-supplier to compare prices.
UI is also reminding residents of simple actions they can take to help make their home as efficient as possible and reduce the impact of rising supply costs on their energy bill.
- Install wall-outlet and switch-plate gaskets to reduce the flow of cold air.
- Install storm windows, or purchase window insulator kits to reduce drafts.
- Be sure your home’s insulation meets U.S. Department of Energy specifications for your geographic area, and that ceilings, walls, and floors over unfinished crawl spaces are all properly insulated.
- Insulate hot water pipes.
- Install storm doors to reduce heat transfer to the outside.
Heating & Cooling
- Have your heating equipment periodically checked by a service professional.
- Dust or vacuum radiator surfaces and vents frequently and keep them unobstructed.
- Keep insulated drapes or shades closed in summer and open on sunny winter days. Close curtains or drapes on winter nights to reduce heat loss.
- Close fireplace dampers when not in use to keep heated or cooled air from escaping up the chimney.
- Set the thermostat as low as comfort permits. Each degree above 68º F can use 3% more energy.
- Open windows in spring and fall rather than using air conditioning.
- Install programmable or wi-fi thermostat to automatically control heating and cooling.
- Clean or replace furnace filters periodically, and have your furnace burner checked and cleaned annually.
- Use ceiling or portable fans in place of room air conditioners whenever possible.
- If you use electric heat, consider replacing it with a high efficiency ductless heat pump system, which can cut electricity use by as much as 50 percent.
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