Help with the electric bill in NJ — How to keep up with your power bills in the Garden State
Since the winters are cold and the summers are hot in New Jersey, keeping up with your electric bill can be quite a challenge. This also means that being shut off is not an option, especially during the heating or cooling season.
Although the average New Jersey power bill is around $102.38, which is below the national average, there is a discrepancy between the prices in big cities and small towns. If you live in Newark or Jersey City, your bill can be as high as $233.33.
If you consider the fact that NJ has some of the highest taxes in the country, it becomes clear that keeping all the expenses under control is not an easy task. For people who need help with their electric bills, there are several programs and other available options to stay afloat even in the pricey state of New Jersey.
DoNotPay can help with the electric bill in NJ
In case you are having problems with your power bills in NJ or beyond, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Your first stop should be DoNotPay, a free app that assists with administrative tasks and red tape issues. If you can’t afford a fancy lawyer or another expensive consultant, DoNotPay is precisely the kind of assistant you are looking for.
The app uses AI to provide help to everyone caught in the bureaucratic labyrinth that our lives have become. Most importantly, it is free of charge and easy to use. Here’s the drill:
- Log on through your web browser or iOS app
- Choose Corona Relief option
- Select electric bills
- Explain your issue to our robot lawyer via chat
- Wait for our virtual advisor to suggest the adequate course of action for you
DoNotPay is designed to make your life easier and take over those annoying and intricate processes that take too much time and energy. Extension letters, waiver letters, and lots of other assignments can be done in a matter of minutes, so turn to our robot lawyer for help whenever you face a challenge.
Late with your electric bill in NJ? Ask for an extension with the help of DoNotPay
The most common problem people have with their electric bills is that they are late with the payment. There are numerous reasons for this, but usually, the due date on the bill and the payday are not synchronized. Whatever the reason may be, if you are not going to meet the deadline, don’t hesitate to ask for an extension.
Most NJ power companies will allow this relaxation to their customers, especially regular ones. You should take advantage of this because late fees and additional surcharges are unnecessary, and can pile up to a significant amount if you are often late.
DoNotPay can create and send the extension letter for you—all you have to do is provide the required details. Our suggestion is to try to ask for a permanent change on the due date if it does not coincide with your payday. It will help you manage your household budget effectively.
DoNotPay can help you get a waiver on late fees on your NJ electric bill
Late fees may not seem like a considerable expense, but they can pile up. If you are in a financial tight spot, every dollar counts, so getting a waiver on late fees is always a good idea. It’s a bit trickier than the extension on the due date, but the requests are usually successful.
NJ residents who are in a position to get it can choose one of the following options:
- Use the service of a lawyer or another consultant to get the waiver
- Do it in-person by booking an appointment with their NJ power company representative
- Send a waiver letter via email
Emailing a waiver letter is the easiest and least time-consuming solution. The problem is that many consumers don’t know how to do it or simply have no time to do their research. DoNotPay can offer a helping hand and compose a professional waiver letter for you. We just need you to provide the details, and we will take care of the rest.
Learn how to read your NJ Electric bill
The first thing you should do is learn how to read your electric bill. This is easier said than done because the language and the terms that the providers use are complicated. Another issue is that every supplier has different terminology.
What is sure is that around half of the amount is the actual energy usage, while the rest of the amount are various surcharges. Once you master the art of reading the electric bill, you’ll realize that, regardless of your provider, you are financing:
- Low-income customers who participate in one of the assistance programs supported by your provider
- Costs of putting power plants out of service
- Infrastructure improvements and repairs
Although you may have thought that power companies cover these expenses themselves, the truth is that the consumers carry the heavy burden on their shoulders. All major players on the NJ power scene charge their customers for the above.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved the surcharges, so there is no way to dispute them successfully. There are several initiatives, like AARP New Jersey, that are advocating for a more transparent process in the approval of surcharges. Even though some of the projects that are financed through them are important, the amounts charged should be a matter for public debate.
Check for errors on your NJ electric bill
Checking your bill for errors is mandatory because it is not that uncommon for electric companies to make a mistake while generating your bill. In case you receive a significantly higher bill than usual, check the following:
- Your personal details
- Account number
- Duplicate items
It would be ideal if you could cross-check the energy usage on your bill with the energy usage on your meter as well. In case you notice anything unusual, you should contact your electric supplier’s customer support and ask for an explanation.
Negotiating the electric bill in New Jersey
New Jersey’s energy deregulation law allows you to switch electricity suppliers. This is excellent news because it means that you are in a position to negotiate your bill. If you realize that the monthly amount is too high for your budget, invite your supplier to the negotiating table and try to lower your bill.
You should be aware that this is not an easy endeavor, so you have to do some research and get ready. Make sure you:
- Research the competitors and understand their service plans and prices
- Formulate your demands based on the research and the level of service that you require
- Are prepared to switch suppliers if you are not satisfied with the outcome
Researching the competition
Check the list of authorized third-party suppliers here, and see which are available in your area. Talk to all of them and get a quote, but make sure you explain what your needs are so that you get an appropriate offer.
Compare the prices and the plan with what you already have to figure out if you are overpaying. This information will allow you to understand what you can expect from your electricity deal and if there is room for improvement.
Formulating your demands
It is essential to know what you want to be able to negotiate your current electricity plan successfully. Make sure you don’t waste your time talking to the company representatives that don’t have the authority to grant you a better deal.
Be firm, but polite, and explain what you expect from the supplier. State that you already have another offer and that you won’t hesitate to take it, but don’t make unrealistic demands.
In case the negotiations go south, and the supplier is not willing to make any exceptions, you should switch to a different company. You can get a good deal as a new customer, so it might be a welcome relaxation in your annual home budget, even if it is just for the first year.
There are three types of deals that you can expect when it comes to payment:
- Fixed—You pay a fixed amount through the entire duration of the contract regardless of the fluctuations of the energy market
- Variable—The bill will follow the changes in the wholesale prices of electricity
- Hybrid—This is the combination of the previous two, and usually means that you get a fixed rate during the initial period and switch to flexible pricing for the rest of the contract time
What happens if you don’t pay your New Jersey electric bill
Failing to pay your electric bill can have dire circumstances since the provider can shut off the service. This is an inconvenient position that has to be resolved as soon as possible, mainly because all electricity providers charge high reconnection fees.
The good news is that your provider will probably not sell your debt to the collecting agency (which is a whole new nightmare) because they are aware that no one can go without electricity for too long.
If you realize that you won’t be able to keep up with the payments, or you are facing a shutoff, it is crucial to communicate with your provider and try to find a suitable solution together. Electric companies are willing to work with you and help you throughout the crisis. The things you can expect to get are:
- A payment plan that would break your debt into affordable monthly installments
- A discount if your bill is unusually high for a specific month or period
- Instructions on how to use your energy efficiently and additional saving tips
You should never avoid communication with your electricity provider because they are your most reliable partner in overcoming the financial tight spot. They will not add high-interest rates to your bill or resort to extreme measures as long as you respect the payment plan, or inform them about any setbacks on time.
Should you get a loan to pay your electric bill in New Jersey?
Getting a personal loan from a bank or another lender may sound like an easy way to cover your electric bill, but it is not an advisable solution. You will probably get the funds immediately and get rid of your debt, but it often gets people more buried in debt.
High-interest rates that apply to personal loans cause you to pay much more than you owed for electricity. It is wiser to stick with your electric company, as they are more flexible than the loan lenders in terms of debt reprogramming.
Paying for the electric bill with your credit card
This may be a solution, but only if you are disciplined, and you can get a credit card with a 0% rate during the introductory period. It would allow you to pay the electricity bill immediately and benefit from zero rates during the first 18 months of repayment for the credit card.
Things can go south pretty quickly if you fail to cover the debt on the card during the grace period. The interest rates go sky-high and sometimes apply to the initial available amount and not just the remaining balance.
Financial assistance programs to help pay the electric bill in New Jersey
If the going gets tough, you should consider applying for one of the financial assistance programs that help NJ residents cope with their utility bills. Since you have been funding these programs through your electric bill, it’s only fair to get some of it back if you are the one struggling at the moment.
You will need to meet strict demands that most of the programs impose on the applicants, but it is worth trying if the situation is dire. Consider the following options if you are falling behind on your electric bill:
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Universal Service Fund (USF)
- NJ SHARES
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
LIHEAP is a federally funded assistance to households or persons struggling to pay their heating or cooling bills. It is important to note that cooling assistance is provided only to individuals who have a medical condition that requires it.
To qualify for LIHEAP, your household income must not exceed 200% of the federal poverty level. The funds from LIHEAP may be added to your account, issued as a single party check, or forwarded directly to the provider.
Local application agencies are responsible for managing applications, which must be sent from October 1 to July 31. You should check the requirements with your NJ local agency. There is a maximum gross household income that you must not exceed to be eligible, and you can check it for the fiscal year 2020, in the table below.
|Household members||Maximum income|
Universal Service Fund
By applying for LIHEAP in New Jersey, you immediately apply for USF as well. This program is managed and funded through the Societal Benefit Fund, although it was created by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.
Your household income must be below 175% of the federal poverty level to qualify for USF. The annual electric bill must be 3% of your yearly income, and if you are using electricity for heating, it should be 6%. USF assistance payments are directed to the providers monthly. The beneficiaries don’t handle the money. Only seven NJ power companies participate in the program, so you can apply if you have a contract with:
- Elizabethtown Gas Company
- Public Service Electric & Gas Company (PSE & G)
- Jersey Central Power & Light
- New Jersey Natural Gas Company
- South Jersey Gas Company
- Rockland Electric Company
- Atlantic City Electric Company
Similar to LIHEAP, the USF program will be unavailable if you exceed a required maximum gross household income. Check the table below to see if you qualify.
|Gross income||Members of the household|
NJ Shares stands for New Jersey Statewide Heating Assistance and Referral Energy Service. It is a nonprofit which designed an assistance program for people who do not qualify for state and federally funded counterparts.
You must be using electricity for heating to apply for NJ Shares, and you can get $700 on your electric heating bill. The resources are granted based on the availability of the funds. The applicants should meet the following requirements:
- Be the residents of the State of New Jersey
- Have the income over 200%, but below 400% of the federal poverty level
- Be behind with their energy bill due to a proven financial crisis (job loss, medical emergency, disability)
- Provide proof of a good-faith payment of $100 within 90 days of NJ Shares application
What else can DoNotPay do to help
Electric bills are not the only thing that DoNotPay can help you with. We are determined to make your trip through the maze of red tape stress-free, so whenever you encounter an annoying administrative duty, unfair fine, or unresponsive customer service, contact us for assistance. Our robot lawyer is ready to:
- Get you an appointment with the DMV faster
- Fight your speeding tickets
- Get revenge on robocalls
- Help you sue people and companies in small claims court
- Jump the phone queue when you are trying to reach customer service reps
- Contest your parking tickets
- Help with other bills
- Make virtual credit cards to help you avoid being charged after your free trial
- Get compensation for delayed and canceled flights
- Cancel any subscription service or membership
- Dispute your traffic tickets