When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, millions of people lost their jobs and income. Stimulus and unemployment benefits helped people get by, but it only took some people so far. Back in March, Duke Energy suspended all disconnects and offered payment plans, but the utility said it will resume normal business operations in October.
Normal billing operations means disconnections for nonpayment will be part of the process, but it doesn’t have to be.
"As Duke Energy returns to standard billing and payments in early October, we want to remind customers there are a variety of payment options and financial assistance available which are outlined below. Our goal is to work with every customer to ensure they have the opportunity to enroll in a payment plan that meets their specific situations and needs, and that they have an opportunity to connect with local assistance agencies and funds" said Duke Energy spokesperson Meghan Miles.
Three quick suggestions to avoid a disconnect: First, call Duke Energy, they said they will work with you to keep the lights and the heat on. Paying something is better than paying nothing. Second, payment plans are available for past and on-going balances, but a plan has to be set up.
Also, try to reduce power usage to knock down the bill. Turn the air conditioning off during these fall nights and remember, the biggest power drain in the house is your dryer.
"Customers behind on payments will receive notices about their past-due balances and the earliest possible date their service could be interrupted beginning in October. This may result in disconnections for nonpayment under regular credit and notice timelines in October for customers with delinquent balances who do not request a payment arrangement or seek assistance. Though disconnections for nonpayment are restarting, it's the very last step in a lengthy process and it's a step we want to avoid altogether" said Miles.
Duke Energy cautions you about falling for a disconnect scam. If you receive a phone call from someone demanding payment, hang up and call the power company directly. Do not use the number you see on your caller ID, that will likely take you back to the scammer. Look up the number and call directly.
Never give out personal information and never ever pay with wire transfers and gift cards. If someone calls you demanding payment in those forms, it is a scam. No power accepts payment in the form of a wire transfer or any type of gift card. Be cautious and remember, it's ok to question that person on the other end of the phone.