ALBANY — The state is pushing utilities to increase their outreach to New Yorkers struggling with high prices for natural gas and electricity this heating season.
It’s also pushing an effort to connect low-income customers with millions of dollars in heating assistance funds available through multiple assistance programs.
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the efforts Tuesday, the first day of March, after a winter that has seen soaring prices for the cost of fuel and temperatures that have seemed cold but are about average for the season.
The state’s utility regulator, the Public Service Commission, in mid-February asked Con Edison, the state’s largest utility, to review its billing practices and do a better job communicating with its customers about the much-larger bills they were receiving. Con Ed replied last week that it would do so, and would adjust its billing process to reduce volatility.
The PSC on Tuesday issued similar requests to other gas and electric utilities in the state.
The fees New York’s utilities charge for delivery of gas and electricity are closely regulated by the PSC. But the cost of the gas and power itself is not — it fluctuates based on multiple factors, and has soared this heating season.
The supply portion of some customers’ utility bills has more than doubled in some cases, Hochul said.
The governor took the opportunity Tuesday to throw in a plug for the state’s ambitious plan to switch to carbon-free energy. The installation of solar and wind power infrastructure will be costly and its output will vary based on conditions. But the price of wind and sunlight will remain zero.