The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is extending a helping hand to those still struggling to keep up with gas and electric bills as a result of COVID-19 income loss.

Changes to the BPU's Universal Service Fund go into effect Oct. 1, according to a release issued Thursday. They include a raising of income limits from 185% of the Federal Poverty Level to 400%, a threshold of approximately $104,000, making more New Jerseyans eligible for benefits.

The USF's "energy affordability threshold" for gas and non-heating electric costs will drop from 3% to 2% of annual income, and for electric heat, from 6% to 4% of income.

New Jersey 101.5 FM logo
Get our free mobile app

Also being adjusted is the state's Fresh Start Program, which provides unlimited debt forgiveness for past due balances. Starting Oct. 1, USF enrollees with a balance of $60 or more will be automatically enrolled in Fresh Start, and for each month customers pay their bills in full, one-twelfth of their outstanding balance will be forgiven.

These modifications will be left in place for two years, according to the BPU. Gas and electric companies may be asked to reconnect, upon request, any customer who has been disconnected but is able to prove having applied to an assistance program in that timeframe.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

LOOK: Here is the richest town in each state

Just saying the names of these towns immediately conjures up images of grand mansions, luxury cars, and ritzy restaurants. Read on to see which town in your home state took the title of the richest location and which place had the highest median income in the country. Who knows—your hometown might even be on this list.

Questions to ask to see if someone’s REALLY from New Jersey

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM