Duke Energy plans gradual return to standard business operations
Duke Energy will begin its standard billing and payment practices in South Carolina in the coming weeks, keeping service disconnections for nonpayment of electric service suspended until October.
South Carolina customers who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic now will have until October to pay previous balances to their accounts or make payment arrangements.
Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress – the company’s two electric utilities in South Carolina – will return to standard billing and payment practices as of Oct. 1, which means customers in arrears will receive notices about their past-due balances. However, the earliest possible date their electric service could be disconnected is Oct. 12.
For several months, the company has been reaching out to customers behind on their bills to offer payment plans. They are actively working with customers to prevent the disconnection of electric service.
The company urges eligible customers to take advantage of available financial support through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds available through statewide community action agencies. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused extraordinary financial and emotional hardships for many in the community. Customers who need assistance are encouraged to visit 211.org to learn about available resources.
Those in need of a payment arrangement are not required to make a down payment and no customer on a payment plan who is current on that arrangement will be disconnected.
“Many of our customers are facing unprecedented adversity during this pandemic, so for months we have expanded the ways we can help them avoid power interruptions,” said Mike Callahan, Duke Energy’s South Carolina state president. “Our goal has been to work with customers as South Carolina continues to open up the economy. We will continue to help our customers access resources to assist and provide additional information that can help reduce their bills as we return to standard billing practices.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the company immediately launched a sweeping series of steps to help customers, including voluntarily suspending disconnections for nonpayment, as well as late-payment fees and other payment related fees.
During the pandemic, the Duke Energy Foundation has contributed more than $500,000 in Foundation and corporate funds to South Carolina not-for-profit organizations, focusing on hunger relief, social services and bill assistance needs of its customers and communities, as well as support for small businesses.
Duke Energy has been working with South Carolina customers who are accumulating past-due balances on their electric utility bills, offering payment plans to mitigate potentially more significant financial challenges in the future.
“If you are facing a financial hardship, we are here to help,” said Lesley Quick, Duke Energy’s vice president for customer service. “Our customer contact specialists are prepared to support our customers through these challenging times and provide manageable solutions so customers can keep their lights on.”
Duke Energy will continue to provide assistance to residential and business customers whose accounts have fallen behind due to illness or lost wages. Support for these efforts includes: Federally funded programs like LIHEAP are available. Additional funds were added to the program due to the pandemic, and the state is urging utility customers to apply through statewide community action agencies.