Companies Expand Efforts to Provide Additional Face-to-Face Meetings with Customer Service Representatives on Bill Management Programs
ORANGE, CT – February 22, 2023 – United Illuminating and Southern Connecticut Gas, subsidiaries of AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR), today announced the companies will host a customer service workshop in Stratford on Thursday, February 23, 2023 at the Stratford Baldwin Center from 4-7 p.m. Building on efforts to help customers manage their bill this winter, the companies will offer customers the opportunity to meet directly with customer service representatives, who will provide information on financial hardship and assistance programs. UI, SCG, and Connecticut Natural Gas recently hosted customer service events in Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven, which were well attended and received positive feedback from customers, and the companies are actively planning additional in-person engagement opportunities throughout other communities in their service territory.
“As a longstanding member of the communities we serve, we understand how difficult it is for customers to manage the sharp increases in energy costs set by out-of-state generation companies this winter, so we’re pleased to work with the Mayor of Stratford and her team to come to our customers in this community and let them know we are here to help,” said Frank Reynolds, President and CEO of UI, SCG, and CNG. “We know that every little bit makes a difference, so we’re providing customers an opportunity to engage directly with our customer service representatives, and learn a little bit more about the programs we have available to help them manage their bills so we can work together to make it through this winter, and year-round.”
In its first three customer service events, UI, SCG, and CNG enrolled 225 customers in bill management programs, and worked with local organizations like Operation Fuel to make information about additional financial aid assistance programs available.
New England Smart Energy, a vendor for EnergizeCT’s Home Energy Solutions-Income Eligible (HES-IE) program, will join UI and SCG in Stratford to offer customers an opportunity to sign up for a free residential energy audit to lower their monthly electric bills and make their home more efficient and sustainable.
"With residents living in Stratford currently facing increased utility costs, I am pleased that the Town of Stratford and United Illuminating (UI) and Southern Connecticut Gas Company (SCG) are collaborating to provide viable options for Stratford residents to manage the increased utility costs,” said Stratford Mayor Laura Hoydick. “The Baldwin Center in Stratford is hosting the workshop and there will be representatives present from UI and SCG to provide real-time assistance for our residents. We appreciate the companies proactive approach to helping customers and offering guidance through various bill management options. I encourage residents to take advantage of this workshop and I thank UI and SCG for this partnership to help our Stratford households."
To help customers manage the unprecedented spike in energy supply costs, in January 2023, UI announced the implementation of an urgent financial relief package that will deliver approximately $40 monthly in direct financial relief to customers enrolled as financial hardship between January-April. 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.
For more information or to become qualified, customers can visit the company website or contact UI at 800.722.5584. Customers seeking financial assistance and relief from Operation Fuel can apply directly to Operation Fuel here.
At the workshop, UI and SCG will also provide customers with information on the following bill management programs:
- Matching Payment Program – Residential customers covered by the Winter Protection Program and who heat by electricity or gas may qualify for the 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 (UI Only) – 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 and SCG offers winter protection to all our customers that qualify. If you meet eligibility requirements, we will not turn off your electricity or gas 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 or SCG to set up a payment arrangement.
- Flexible Payment Arrangements – UI and SCG will work with customers if they are having trouble paying their utility bill. UI and SCG 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 UI Customer Care Center at 800.722.5584 or SCG Customer Care at 800.659.8299.
- 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 assistance and programs offered by SCG, visit the SCG website or call 800.659.8299. 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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