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Duke Energy plans gradual return to standard business operations while extending assistance for North Carolina customers in need

2020-08-17 12:59 ET - News Release

- Company provides enhanced care, expanded assistance program for customers experiencing payment challenges

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Aug. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Duke Energy will begin its standard billing practices in North Carolina in the coming weeks, keeping service disconnections for nonpayment suspended until October 2020, a full month beyond its required moratorium. North Carolina customers who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic will have until October to pay overdue balances or make payment arrangements.

Beginning in September, those who need additional time to pay any outstanding balance will be able to establish flexible payment plans with no down payment required. Additionally, Duke Energy will continue to waive late fees until further notice.

The company also urges eligible customers to take advantage of available financial support through the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services' Crisis Intervention Program and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds available through statewide community action agencies.

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 residential customer fees for credit card payments and other payment types.

During the pandemic, the Duke Energy Foundation has contributed more than $2.1 million in Foundation and corporate funds to North Carolina not-for-profit organizations, focusing on food, bill assistance and education needs of its customers and communities.

"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 Stephen De May, Duke Energy's North Carolina president. "As financial assistance has become available for qualified customers, we believe now is the right time to share our plans to resume 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 will be working with North Carolina customers who are accumulating past-due balances on their utility bills, offering payment plans beginning in September to mitigate potentially more significant financial challenges in the future.

"If you are facing a financial hardship, we are here to help," said Yolanda Holiday, 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."

Customers will also have access to self-service options on duke-energy.com.

Expanded assistance options

Duke Energy will also 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 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 online, anytime. Click here for more information.
  • Duke Energy Progress customers who need additional assistance can visit the Energy Neighbor Fund webpage to learn how community agencies can help pay energy bills.
  • Duke Energy Carolinas customers who need additional assistance can visit the Share the Warmth webpage to learn how community agencies can help pay energy bills.
  • 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 fees for residential customers until further notice. Walk-in payment fees for residential customers will resume in December.

What customers can expect

Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress will return to standard billing and payment practices in October, 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 may result in disconnections for nonpayment under regular credit and notice timelines in October for residential and nonresidential customers with delinquent balances who do not request a payment arrangement.

The company urges customers to establish a payment plan to avoid disconnection.

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:

  • Duke Energy Carolinas: 1.800.777.9898
  • Duke Energy Progress: 1.800.452.2777

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 employees and contractors who may interact with customers or engage in fieldwork 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.

Duke Energy

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 29,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities and 2,300 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 7.8 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 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' "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.

Duke Energy media line:
800.559.3853

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