PLAINFIELD, Ind., July 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Duke Energy Indiana will continue to suspend service disconnections for nonpayment for an additional month beyond the state's current moratorium on disconnection for nonpayment. Customers who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic now have until September 15 to settle their accounts or make payment arrangements.
Leading up to the deadline, Duke Energy is offering customers in need the opportunity to establish payment plans for up to six months in length. The company is also urging eligible customers to take advantage of additional Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program funds available through statewide community action agencies due to the pandemic.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the company immediately launched a sweeping series of steps to help customers, including suspending disconnections for non-payment, as well as late-payment fees and residential fees for credit card payments and other payment types.
During the pandemic, the Duke Energy Foundation has contributed over $950,000 in foundation and corporate funds to Indiana not-for-profit organizations, focusing on food, small business recovery, education and workforce needs of its customers and communities.
"So many of our customers are facing unprecedented adversity during this pandemic. We want to be thoughtful and provide extended payment options to avoid power interruptions," said Stan Pinegar, Duke Energy Indiana state president. "As financial assistance has become available for qualified customers, we believe now is the right time to begin resuming more standard operations. We will, however, continue to help our customers access resources to assist and provide additional information that can help reduce their bills."
Enhanced customer care
Duke Energy Indiana has contacted residential and non-residential customers with significant past-due balances on their 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 Marion Byndon, Duke Energy general manager 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."
Expanded assistance options
Duke Energy Indiana 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:
- Federal-funded programs like the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). 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. Click here for details.
- The added convenience for customers to choose an extended payment arrangement that meets their needs on-line, anytime. Click here for more information.
- Resources are available here for small business customers as they are reopening, from financial assistance to billing and payment options to professional guidance to manage their energy usage.
- To make it easier to pay, the company will continue waiving credit and debit card and walk-in payment fees for residential customers for an additional two months once standard billing and payment practices resume. These fees will resume in November.
What customers can expect
Duke Energy Indiana will return to standard billing and payment practices in mid-August, which means customers in arrears will receive notices about their past-due balances and the earliest possible date their service could be interrupted. That change will result in disconnections for non-payment under regular credit and notice timelines after September 15 for residential and non-residential customers.
The company anticipates higher-than-normal call volume and encourages customers to consider using the online self-service options now to avoid longer 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 800.521.2232.
Duke Energy's customer service specialists are available Monday through 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:
- Utility bills
- 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
The company also suspended some of its field operations and non-emergency work inside customers' premises. However, as a provider of an essential service, the company continues working hard to deliver the reliable power customers need while following CDC guidelines to protect the health and well-being of its communities.
The company has been methodically resuming some activities, consistent with its commitment to safely and reliably serve customers.
As the company continues to resume service orders previously suspended, personnel will follow CDC guidelines to complete work.
Duke Energy Indiana 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. If you have questions regarding work that needs to be scheduled, please call us.
The company anticipates that all previously delayed, deferred, and suspended non-essential operations will have resumed by September 1, 2020.
Duke Energy Indiana
Duke Energy Indiana, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, provides about 6,600 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 840,000 customers in a 23,000-square-mile service area, making it Indiana's largest electric supplier.
Duke Energy (DUK) - Get Report, a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities, and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.
Duke Energy is transforming its customers' experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit's regulated utilities serve approximately 7.7 million retail electric customers in six states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to more than 1.6 million customers in five states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S., as well as energy storage and microgrid projects.
Duke Energy was named to Fortune's 2020 "World's Most Admired Companies" list, and Forbes' 2019 "America's Best Employers" list. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy's illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
Media Contact: Lew Middleton Office: 317.838.1505 | Cell: 317.474.7448 24-Hour: 800.559.3853
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SOURCE Duke Energy