ORANGE, Conn. — Sept. 9, 2020 — Southern Connecticut Gas (SCG) is urging customers who are behind on their bills to sign up for 24-month COVID Payment Plans and other assistance programs before regular collections activities resume.
The payment plans allow customers impacted by the pandemic to pay off accumulated balances on their SCG bill over a two-year period, with no security deposit, penalty or interest. Enrolled customers are protected from service disconnection for the duration of the plan, as long as they remain current on payments.
The enrollment deadline is Nov. 1 for residential customers and Oct. 1 for business customers.
“Many of our customers are still struggling from the economic impact of the pandemic, and we recognize that the return to normal collections will be challenging for some of them. We want to make sure they have the opportunity to take advantage of programs that can help them manage their monthly bills,” said Tony Marone, president and CEO of SCG. “For some customers who have lost income, this may be a new situation, so it’s important for them to be aware of the financial support that is available.”
In March, at the direction of the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and in response to the COVID-19 crisis, SCG temporarily stopped disconnecting customers for nonpayment and suspended security deposits and late fees. Regular collections activities may be resumed for non-hardship residential customers starting Oct. 1, when the state order that protects those customers from disconnection for non-payment expires.
Customers who are notified that they are scheduled for disconnection can avoid loss of service by signing up for the COVID Payment Plan, and/or by qualifying for hardship status based on their income or medical situation. Customers who obtain hardship status will continue to be protected from service disconnection until Oct. 31, and then will be covered by winter service protection from Nov. 1 to May 1.
Assistance for Income-Eligible Customers
Residential customers who are struggling to pay their gas bill may qualify for income-based hardship assistance . To apply, they should first call 211 to find their Community Action Agency to determine if they qualify for the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program, then contact SCG to establish winter service protection and enroll in a payment plan.
SCG offers income-eligible customers payment plans and forgiveness programs that can be combined with Connecticut Energy Assistance dollars to help reduce bills and pay down balances.
Customers who are in financial crisis but do not meet the income eligibility guidelines can seek emergency energy assistance through Operation Fuel, which is supported by utility customers through on-bill or direct contributions.
Assistance for Medically Eligible Customers
Residential customers with documented medical hardships may also qualify for service protection during the Nov. 1 to May 1 period. A physician must certify that the customer or a household member is seriously ill or has a life-threatening condition. To establish a medical hardship, call SCG.
Energy efficiency is one of the best ways to reduce energy use and lower energy bills. For a limited time, residential customers can sign up for free virtual efficiency assessments. Conducted remotely, this is a safe and convenient first step to making energy efficiency improvements.
This virtual pre-assessment can be followed with an in-person Home Energy Solutions energy audit, when that program resumes. For a $75 co-payment (waved for income-qualifying customers), a typical Connecticut home receives about $1,000 in services and realizes $200 in savings on their annual energy bills. The company also offers efficiency programs for business customers.
The company also offers Budget Billing programs that can help customers manage their monthly bills by averaging out their projected energy costs over a 12-month period, resulting in a predictable monthly bill.
SCG is a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR).
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This news release was issued pursuant to Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority Docket No. 20-03-15, Motion No. 9, Order No. 21.