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A Tenant's Guide to Getting and Keeping Gas and Electricity Service

TenantNet note: This booklet was published by Brooklyn Legal Services in 1995. Some information contained may be out-of-date, particularly listed telephone numbers. As far as we know, there have been no updates to this publication. While much of the information may still be valid, the reader should exercise caution.

III. How The Billing Process Works

The utility company may bill you either once a month or every two months. Normally, you pay for the utilities used during the billing period. If you want to spread your payments more evenly throughout the year, the utility offers a "level billing" plan that allows you to estimate your annual use and make equal monthly payments.

You must pay your bill within 20 days of the date on the bill (23 days if your bill was mailed). If your payment is late, the utility company may charge a late fee of not more than one and a half percent of the unpaid balance.

The utility company must try to read your meter to determine your actual usage before sending you a bill. If they are unable to read your meter, the utility company may send you an estimated bill.

If the utility company is unable to read your meter for several months, they may make an appointment with you to read the meter or ask you to read the meter. If you do not control access to the meter or cannot read it, tell the utility company. If the company receives no response from you and the meter remains unread for an extended period, they may charge you $25.00.

If the utility company reads the meter and finds that you were under-billed, you will be charged for the additional amounts owed. You may usually pay the corrected amount in monthly installments.

If the company finds that you paid too much, they should give you a credit toward future bills or refund the overpayment.

Although you are supposed to get a bill at least once every two months, you may not receive your first bill for several months after your service starts. If you do not get a bill for two or three months, call the utility company and ask for one. If you wait, you may receive an extremely large bill for services provided over several months. You may not be backbilled for more than six months of utility service on your first bill unless the delay in billing was your fault or unless the company can show that it was not their fault.

* How to get the Brooklyn Union residential reduced rate

Brooklyn Union has a new reduced rate that provides a discount on the basic service charge for low-income households. To be eligible, you must receive assistance from one of the following programs:

  • Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)
  • Home Relief (HR)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Medicaid
  • Food Stamps
  • Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)
  • Veteran's Disability Pension
  • Veteran's Surviving Spouse Pension

If eligible, you can save at least $22.00 per year. You must complete an application, attach proof that you receive assistance from one of the above programs and return the information to Brooklyn Union. Contact Brooklyn Union to get an application. See Reduced Rate Application Form, at page 46-C.

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