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Corona Economics

Duke Energy preparing for normal billing for Florida customers post-COVID-19

Duke will normalize billing, but will offer some assistance for those impacted by coronavirus.

Florida customers of Duke Energy who might be undergoing financial strain due to the coronavirus outbreak will still get some leniency from the company at least until September.

The energy company said Tuesday that residents in the Sunshine State who are Duke customers will not face any disconnection actions for unpaid bills at least until Sept. 1. The company said it’s still assisting its Florida customers who are facing hardship due to the COVID-19 resurgence.

But the company said in a statement on its website that it’s likely to return to standard billing practices and payments in mid-August.

“Our customers remain our top priority. Many of them are facing unprecedented adversity during this pandemic. We want to be thoughtful and provide extended payment options to avoid power interruptions during the pandemic,” said Catherine Stempien, Duke Energy Florida president.

Duke has donated about $1 million for coronavirus relief efforts in the state. There are different payment programs still available now for customers and company officials are urging customers to contact the company to enroll in any options that are still available.

But the company will begin within weeks the process of returning to regular billing features.

“As financial assistance has become available for qualified customers, we believe now is the right time to begin resuming more traditional operations. We will, however, continue to help our customers access resources to assist them and provide additional information that can help reduce their bills,” Stempien said.

Duke Energy officials said they initiated customer assistance programs in March shortly after the outbreak of coronavirus in Florida. Disconnection suspensions for non-payments have been offered for weeks since the pandemic swept through the state.

While Duke is preparing to return to more normalized billing procedures, officials said they’ll still provide assistance for exceptional cases.

“If you are facing a financial hardship, we are here to help,” said Malcolm Barnes, Duke Energy’s general manager for regional customer care operations. “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.”

Written By

Drew Dixon is a journalist of 40 years who has reported in print and broadcast throughout Florida, starting in Ohio in the 1980s. He is also an adjunct professor of philosophy and ethics at three colleges, Jacksonville University, University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville. You can reach him at drewdixonwriting@gmail.com.

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