When COVID-19 reared its ugly head, our local utilities reacted with the needs of their customers in mind. Interruptions and fees for nonpayment were suspended right away in March, and all offered some type of payment plan to assist customers. The electric utilities provided some rate relief and donated to funds to assist their customers with payments.
They are now beginning to resume regular payments and resulting disconnections, but they are vocal about continuing to help their customers, both residential and commercial, with payment plans and assistance funds. All three electric utilities – Kissimmee Utility Authority, OUC – The Reliable One, and Duke Energy – as well as Toho Water Authority encourage their customers to contact them if they need to discuss options for payment. Read below about the assistance available through Osceola’s electric utilities and find contact information to reach out for additional details. Also, look out for our panel discussion with representatives from the utilities on our Facebook page on Wednesday, August 26 at 9:30 am.
OUC – The Reliable One
When the pandemic first hit, OUC‘s Board of Commissioners approved a $12.1 million customer relief package. Since April, OUC has helped nearly 24,000 customers through payment arrangements and direct financial assistance – yet nearly $1.5 million still remains available for those in need, and there are still payment options and funds available to help customers. More than $1 million of remaining utility assistance funds is available for OUC’s small business customers. Find more information or apply for small business assistance on OUC’s website.
Kissimmee Utility Authority
At the start of the pandemic, and throughout, KUA has worked to keep their customers informed and provide financial assistance where possible. KUA created their “Our Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)” webpage, where customers can find updates such as lobby reopening information, service interruption updates, payment plans, and more. The KUA board donated $50,000 to the KUA Good Neighbor Fund to provide additional payment assistance and doubled their match for other donations. To provide further financial relief, from May 1 to August, KUA utilized up to $8 million to offset fuel expenses for its residential and commercial customers.
KUA will work with any commercial customers who reach out. Since the beginning of the pandemic KUA has made almost 1,000 payment arrangements with commercial customers for a total of $842,000.
Duke Energy is resuming their standard billing and payment practices this month, though disconnections for nonpayment and late payment fees will remain suspended until September 1. In addition, credit and debit card fees and walk-in payment fees will be waived through the end of October. Duke remains committed to helping residential and commercial customers that are experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic.
Business customers still facing financial challenges are asked to request an extended payment arrangement via Duke Energy’s business assistance webpage. Businesses with more complex issues can call a customer care representative Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm at 877-372-8477.
Toho Water Authority
Toho Water Authority is also aware that the pandemic has impacted many of their customers. Toho resumed regular billing and collections procedures the week of August 3, 2020, and they have financial assistance programs for both residents and businesses that may have fallen behind on payments. Toho offers payment extensions, customized plans for residents and businesses, and their TAP (Toho Assistance Program) program to ease financial hardship for customers. Commercial customers that have fallen behind on bill payment due to COVID should contact Toho’s customer service line at 407-944-5000.