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The Real Deal: Credit and Phase-Down of Fee for Utility Customers
ALBANY - It's not often we get a break on our utility bills but a small one is on the way. Over the past five years, the state has been collecting money from what was supposed to be a temporary tax on utility bills, that tax is now finally being phased out. It's not going to be a dramatic savings, only about 2% but after the winter we just had, customers will take what they can get.
The surcharge, known as the 18-a assessment was first raised by Governor David Patterson in 2009. Since then, about 2.9 billion dollars has been collected from ratepayers and dumped into the state's general fund.
Utility bills can be hard to read and understand, there are a number of line items that all add up quickly but soon, the one labeled "Incremental State Assessment" on your National Grid bill will be phased down. It was originally intended to fund the Public Service Commission but the fee was bumped from .33% to 2% in 2009 with the additional money being dumped into the general fund.
The increased tax was supposed to expire last year but it was renewed by Governor Cuomo with the understanding that it will now be phased out by 2017.
The lower tax of .33% will still be collected but the phase-down is expected to save the average residential customer about $55 a year.
In addition to the phase-down, because of the record-high prices customers paid this past winter, the surcharge collected more than was estimated. National Grid tells CBS6 it will likely credit customer accounts the difference on an upcoming bill. The average credit for that though, will likely be less than $1 per customer.