Duke Energy announces $1M in COVID-19 response grants

duke energy
Money heading to bill payment, social services, hunger relief, educational programs.

Utility company Duke Energy said it was sending $1 million in grants to bolster COVID-19 response efforts in communities across Florida.

Duke said $450,000 will support bill payments, social services and hunger relief programs. The money will be put to use by 50 organizations and will help more than 2,000 families pay utility bills, and also will support programs that address food needs for all ages.

The other $550,000 will be split across 22 Florida-based organizations to support energy, engineering and environmental educational initiatives. The organizations will have the flexibility to use the grant money to address operational challenges brought on by the pandemic.

“These targeted investments, coupled with the actions Duke Energy has taken to help our customers during this challenging time, help fulfill critical community needs — and hopefully lessen the burden — for Floridians experiencing financial hardships during the virus pandemic,” Duke Energy Florida President Catherine Stempien said.

Heart of Florida United Way President and CEO Jeff Hayward said his organization “is grateful to have a partner like Duke Energy supporting us during this challenging time. The amount of requests for assistance is unprecedented, and the contribution from Duke Energy will help support many families who are trying to keep their lives together.”

Duke Energy previously announced that it would not cut off power to customers who cannot afford to pay their utility bills during the pandemic.

The state Public Service Commission also recently clarified the company can waive reconnection or late payment fees. Utility companies are allowed to waive fees after natural disasters, such as hurricanes, but Duke sought clarity over whether it could apply the same policy to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company has also asked the PSC to allow it to pass on $78 million in fuel savings in a lump sum next month rather than splitting the savings over the course of a year.

If approved, residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity would pay about $27 less in May. Rates would return to current levels in June.

The list of Duke Energy grant recipients:

— Citrus County United Way (Citrus County)

— Heart of Florida United Way (Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties)

— Lake/Sumter County United Way (Lake and Sumter counties)

— Marion County United Way (Marion County)

— Pasco United Way (Pasco County)

— United Way Suncoast (Pinellas County)

— Second Harvest Food Bank (Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, Volusia and Brevard Counties)

— Seniors First Meals on Wheels (Orange County)

— St. Petersburg Free Clinic (Pinellas County)

— United Way of Central Florida (Hardee, Highlands and Polk counties)

— Volusia/Flagler County United Way (Volusia and Flagler counties)

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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