Power outage threatens some late paying PSEG customers

PSEG Long Island has begun sending letters to tens of thousands of customers warning them that their power could be cut for non-payment within a week as the utility reverts to pre-pandemic rules aimed at letting late customers Pay.

The default shutdown will begin on July 12, PSEG said, with 46,000 late-paying customers receiving letters warning them of a potential shutdown that began last week.

About 120,000 residential PSEG customers owe more than $160 million in delinquent bills at the end of May, according to government filings, but most can avoid a shutdown by applying for utilities or starting a deferred payment plan. At the end of May, 37,863 residential customers had deferred payment plans, PSEG reported, representing about a third of its delinquent bills.

Dozens of PSEG employees will visit customers before a formal shutdown, Kim Soreil, PSEG’s customer operations manager, said Tuesday. The plan, she said, is to get as many of the late-paying customers as possible on hold or into an assistance program to help avoid closures.

Residential PSEG customers paying late*

Total customers with invoices more than 60 days late: 120,051

Amount Due: $160.3 Million

Letters sent with impending closures: 46,000

Deferred payment plans in place: 37,863

Overdue balances waived: 14,000

*(as of May 31)

Source: NYS Department of Public Service filings

Setting up a payment plan, sometimes to pay as little as $10 a month, also suspends late payment fees, she added. The utility will often ask for a down payment as part of the deferred plan, she said.

Low- and middle-income customers eligible for financial assistance programs will not close until September 1, PSEG said, and some may avoid the process altogether if they qualify for a recently established arrears forgiveness program. On Long Island, those programs will exempt more than 14,000 from paying delinquent bills accumulated from March 2020 to May 2022, Newsday reported last month.

Delinquency forgiveness programs apply to customers who have received the PSEG Home Help Program or an eligible financial assistance program during that two-year period. Soreil noted that customers can still apply for the HAP and forgiveness program until the end of the year. Customers can call PSEG at 800-490-0025 to see if they qualify.

PSEG, like other state utilities, had halted the process of impending shutdowns during the state of emergency declared by the state in March 2020 related to the financial difficulties of COVID-19. For the past six months, the company has visited late-paying customers to tell them that bills would be paid soon and that closures would resume in the summer. PSEG, which manages the electricity grid under contract with LIPA, restarted the shutdowns later than many other state-owned companies, Soreil said.

Commercial customers have no longer been shielded from the closures since the end of 2021. At the end of May, 10,918 commercial bills had more than $29 million in delinquent electricity bills, state data shows. Approximately 6,664 commercial customers received final termination notices at the end of May and 245 were closed.

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