Duke Energy Ohio customers will return to normal billing practices August 10, when approved
Duke Energy Ohio is moving closer to resuming normal business operations, and continues working with customers who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company today filed plans with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to resume previously suspended billing practices August 10.
In March, shortly after the pandemic began, Duke Energy Ohio proactively suspended service disconnections for nonpayment, as well as late-payment fees and fees for credit card payments and other payment types.
The company also suspended some of its field operations and non-emergency work inside customers’ premises.
The company has been methodically resuming some activities, consistent with its commitment to safely and reliably serve customers.
During the pandemic, the company has donated nearly $300,000 to assist COVID-19 relief efforts in the greater Cincinnati region.
“Knowing that customers were facing significant financial burdens, we wanted to provide peace of mind that they would not lose their power or natural gas during the pandemic,” said Amy Spiller, president, Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky. “Our next steps will be to make sure our customers are prepared as we work toward more normal operations in the coming weeks and months.”
Enhanced customer care
Duke Energy Ohio has been proactively working with residential and non-residential customers who are accumulating past-due balances on their utility bills, offering payment plans to mitigate potentially more significant financial challenges in the future.
“We know the financial hardship for some of our customers has been very challenging,” said Marion Byndon, Duke Energy’s general manager for regional customer care operations. “Our customer contact specialists are prepared to support customers through this most difficult time to help get them back on their feet during a pandemic that is still not over.”
Expanded assistance options
Duke Energy Ohio 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 include:
Online tools so customers can directly choose an extended payment arrangement that best fits their needs.
Continued access to Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and other funds available through communities’ agencies.
Professional guidance for small business customers to help analyze their energy usage, discuss energy rates and identify solutions to help lower their energy bills as they are reopening.
Continued waiving of credit / debit card and walk-in payment fees for residential customers for an additional two months once billing and payment practices resume.
What customers can expect
Duke Energy Ohio customers will return to normal billing practices August 10, when approved. The Company estimates disconnections for non-payment under regular credit and notice timelines would begin during the month of September for residential and non-residential customers.
The company anticipates higher than normal call volume as operations return to normal and encourages customers to consider using the online self-service options now to avoid long wait times.
Customers should download the company’s mobile app or visit duke-energy.com for information and most service transactions. Customers who are unable to self-serve can contact the customer contact center at: 800.543.5599.
Duke Energy’s customer service specialists are available Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to assist customers with customized payment plans that meet their specific situations.
Customers who need financial assistance are encouraged to visit 211.org to locate available resources. The free service can help customers find local community agencies that provide assistance to meet a wide range of needs, including:
Housing, food and other essentials
Child and elder care
Medical expenses and health counseling
To get started, simply visit 211.org or dial 211 from your phone.
Service orders, field operations
Field activities such as meter installations and replacements, and inside pipe inspections will be resuming in the coming weeks.
Duke Energy Ohio employees and contractors who may interact with customers or engage in field work have access to necessary personal protective equipment and will maintain social distancing to the extent practical.
For work that must be scheduled, the company will contact customers in advance to inform them of the nature of the work and the safety protocols that will be used. Customers will have the right to refuse and reschedule the work for a later date, unless an immediate safety issue exists.
The company anticipates that all previously delayed, deferred, and suspended non-essential operations will have resumed by September 1, 2020.
Source: Company Press Release