Rate Case Q&A - Natural Gas Delivery Rates
O&R seeks an increase in revenues for natural gas delivery of $4.5 million.
The overall bill for a typical residential natural gas customer using a monthly average of 100 Ccf would increase an average of about $4 per month, from $133.64 to $137.76.
O&R has implemented a number of programs to support and fortify the operation of its natural gas delivery system to continue to provide safe, reliable and clean natural gas service.
The primary driver for these projects continues to be replacing aging natural gas piping. By replacing aging pipe, O&R is reducing the safety risks associated with potential leaks and is also improving overall system efficiency and integrity.
O&R’s natural gas rate review request includes initiatives to:
· Enhance gas safety by replacing 22 miles of aging pipe per year.
· Provide greater safety in the operation of the natural gas delivery system by reducing damage done by excavators through: increased deployment of inspectors to job sites, video confirmation of pipe location and condition and increased outreach and education to excavators.
Featured in O&R's rate proposal is a revised low-income assistance program. The New Bill Discount Program aligns with statewide mandates that electric and gas utility companies provide low-income bill discounts. Those discounts are designed to achieve a target energy burden (i.e., the percentage of a household's income that is spent on energy) of 6 percent of monthly low-income household income. To achieve that goal, O&R’s rate proposal includes funding for low-income credits of approximately $9.9 million for electric and $3.6 million for natural gas.
The New Bill Discount program became effective on January 1, 2018, about the same time as the start of the 2017-2018 Home Energy Assistance Program (“HEAP”) season. All customers currently receiving HEAP assistance to pay their bills for their Orange and Rockland electric and/or gas services, or other fuel services (e.g., oil, propane, or wood), are now eligible for the New Bill Discount Program and will be enrolled by the Company in the same manner customers customarily have been enrolled.
Many customers have found that O&R's Budget Billing program helps them better manage their household expenses by leveling out the seasonal usage variations on the bill. Budget Billing does not reduce your energy bill. It simply lets you spread your annual energy expense over a 12-month period and lets you know in advance what your payment will be so you’ll be able to better plan your expenses.
To enroll, use the on-line form or call O&R’s Customer Assistance toll-free at 1-877-434-4100.
If you are having trouble paying your energy bill, call us at 1-877-434-4100. We can offer you advice on how to arrange payment agreements or contact social services agencies for help.
For customers with more profound bill-payment issues, O&R's Neighbor Fund provides critical home-heating assistance for those O&R customers who find themselves unable to pay their home heating fuel bills because of emergency financial conditions.
The Neighbor Fund provides a one-time grant for electric customers of $250 and for heating fuel customers of $250.
Grants from The Neighbor Fund are awarded to pay for home energy costs no matter what type of fuel is used — electricity, oil, natural gas, propane, wood or coal. The grant money does not have to be repaid, and there are no age limits or income guidelines to be met.
To qualify for The Neighbor Fund grant, individuals must have an account with O&R and must already exhaust all governmental resources available for financial assistance. They must also provide supporting documentation of emergency/crisis circumstances (medical bills, unemployment notification, etc.)
The Salvation Army administers The Neighbor Fund program, evaluates Neighbor Fund applications and makes the grants.