Letter: Utility customers in a financial bind can look to the City Council for help

Woman going through bills, looking worried
Con Edison first alerted customers of higher bills in February, though the statement made on Feb. 11 came more than two weeks after invoices were sent out.
Photo courtesy Getty

To the Editor,

Older New Yorkers in the Bronx are struggling to make ends meet. Many are on fixed incomes. Others have had a hard time getting back into the workforce post-pandemic. With rising inflation, paying the bills is even harder. But, thanks to the New York City Council, help is on the way.

The council, under the leadership of Speaker Adrienne Adams, recently passed a bill to create an Office of the Utility Advocate, which will help customers facing financial hardships by testifying on their behalf at rate hike hearings and compiling complaints.

This support can’t come soon enough. A recent report from state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found that the number of people with past-due utility bills is up and so is the total owed, with Con Edison customers having more than $2,000 on average in past-due bills and National Grid customers owing an average of $1,000.

In June Gov. Kathy Hochul enacted a financial assistance program for low-income customers to pay off past utility bills. That’s great news, but more needs to be done. It’s unacceptable to live in a society where New Yorkers must choose between food, medicine and electricity. We hope the Office of the Utility Advocate will help.

Beth Finkel,

AARP New York State director

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