My Electric Bill is Too High – What do I Do?
The pandemic period hit New Jersey energy customers especially hard. In March this year around a million of us were already behind on electric payments, with little spare cash to make up the shortfall. Now, with summer power usage and rate spikes on the way, there’s even less breathing room in the budget. But don’t panic, NJ power customers! You might be able to cover that NJ electric bill with the help of different assistance and payment initiatives. Let’s see what’s on offer to help out.
What Happens If I Don’t Pay My Electric Bill?
Normally, missed payments after 15 days get you a discontinuance notice. Then you have ten more days to pay before – boom – they shut off your power! Over the pandemic, however, there were so many missed payments that NJ decided to introduce shut-off protections. This meant that if customers had applied for state assistance and were awaiting a decision, utilities had to grant them a 60 day grace period of uninterrupted service. This not only gave customers some much needed breathing room and but also kept their lights on.
Unfortunately, these protections ended on June 15th. But it’s possible some of you just about squeezed in at the last moment. If you submitted a request for state aid by June 14th, you should still be eligible for this 60 day grace period. Which will be a much needed weight off.
What Kind of State Assistance can I Apply for?
If you didn’t apply by June 14th, don’t worry – that doesn’t mean you can’t apply for state assistance! The following state programs offer financial assistance to help reduce your electricity bills. And eligibility requirements for some of them are expanded, so you may qualify even if you didn’t before. See their info pages for more details:
- Home Energy Assistance (HEA & LIHEAP): the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers financial grants to help cover home energy bills. You’ll need to be in a very low-income household to qualify.
- Universal Service Fund (USF): electricity credit is available to low and moderate income households. You’ll be assessed for this automatically if you apply for LIHEAP!
- Weatherization Assistance (WAP): a program to help elderly, handicapped, and low-income NJ residents make their home more energy-efficient. This will help keep your bills more manageable in future.
Can I Set up a Payment Plan for my Electric Bill?
If you can’t access the assistance above, there’s still no need to panic. That’s because new new legislation requires all utilities to offer customers in this situation a 12 month interest-free deferred payment plan for outstanding payments. So this way, you can pay back your outstanding balance in more manageable chunks over the course of a year.
Sort Out Your Outstanding Electric Payments Today!
So all is not lost for NJ electric customers behind on payments! Firstly, check if you’ll benefit from the 60 day shut-off protection grace period. Then, dig into the state assistance programs to see if you now qualify. And finally, exercise your right to set up a 12 month payment plan with your energy provider. Even if you can’t pay your high NJ electric bill right now, you’ve got options to help you get there. And you can see more NJ electric news and tips over at www.NJenergyRatings.com!