Company provides enhanced care, expanded assistance program for customers experiencing payment challenges
CINCINNATI – 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. For more information on how Duke Energy Ohio has helped local communities through rapid-relief funding during the pandemic, click here.
“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:
- 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
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.
To learn more about Duke Energy’s response to the COVID-19 virus, please visit the company webpage.
Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky
Duke Energy Ohio/Kentucky, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, provides electric service to about 860,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in a 3,000-square-mile service area, and natural gas service to approximately 538,000 customers.
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 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’ “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: Sally Thelen