Workshop held for those applying for state’s low-income utility relief program

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KINGSTON – A workshop was conducted Thursday at the YMCA in Kingston to help Central Hudson customers apply for New York State’s Low-Income Electric and Gas Relief Program.

Advocates from the Public Utility Law Project (PULP) and Communities for Local Power conducted the workshop.

“It’s needed more than ever with all the rising supply costs, the high energy bills,” said Lori Wheelock, executive director of the Public Utility Law Project. “We’re seeing a lot of need in all income brackets.”

In June, the state’s Public Service Commission approved a $557 million program to provide relief for low-income gas and electric customers. Currently 1.3 million state households are behind with the utility bills, which, collectively statewide, totals about $1.5 billion.

Residents who are enrolled in their utility’s energy affordability program have until December 31 to apply for these state benefits. And those residents will have any debts of service incurred through May 1, 2022 forgiven in full.

Energy bills are higher in the winter due to the need to stay and in the summer when air-conditioning is needed to stay cool. And the need for this assistance primarily stems from risings costs, illness and simple misfortune.

“We’re heard everything that I haven’t received raise in many years, my benefits haven’t gone up, I lost my job recently, my hours got cut back,” said Wheelock. “We’ve had to lot of people who lost hours because they’ve gotten sick again, or their children got sick. Everyone is struggling and costs are getting higher. It’s harder to do more with less.”