On Saturday, March 21, all utility companies located in Rochester were advised by the city that they must not cut off service during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The requirement was part of an emergency order signed by Mayor Lovely Warren that also included an update about real estate and property taxes, which have been extended until April 30.
When people think of public utilities, they often think first of electric and natural gas companies. Public utilities help maintain infrastructure and also include sewer and water services. That said, the emergency order covered all utilities.
Normally during this time of year, many Rochester residents apply for financial assistance through the state’s Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to help them pay their heating utility bills. The benefit application process opened on November 21, 2019, but extends to the end of the winter season. An Emergency HEAP benefit was opened on January 2, 2020 for people who needed additional assistance with their heating bills. HEAP also covers tuning and replacement of heating equipment for qualified applicants to guarantee that their equipment is running safely and efficiently. A separate Cooling Assistance Benefit opens to Rochester residents on May 1, 2020. The benefit doesn’t supply cash, but instead provides a qualified applicant with cooling equipment.