Tampa Electric and TECO Peoples Gas have provided more than $1 million to support Floridians in the communities they serve who have lost their jobs or substantial income because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are many people experiencing unexpected financial hardship and we want to do our part to help,” said Nancy Tower, president and CEO of Tampa Electric. “Our goal is to provide assistance and peace of mind so our customers can stay focused on what’s most important — keeping themselves and their family safe and healthy.”
The contributions went to a variety of nonprofits within the Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas service territory that provide education, health care, food, childcare and many other necessities to those in need.
Some of the notable contributions include:
— United Way — Broward, Central Florida, Charlotte County, Collier County, Heart of Florida, Lee, Hendry, Glades & Okeechobee, Miami-Dade, Northeast Florida, Northwest Florida, Palm Beach, Pasco County, Suncoast
— American Red Cross
— Advent Health
— Florida Virtual School Foundation
— Crisis Center of Tampa Bay
— Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast and Tampa Bay
— Feeding South Florida & Feeding Tampa Bay
— Guardian ad Litem of the Suncoast
— Meals on Wheels of Tampa
— Tampa General Hospital
— University of South Florida
— YMCA of the Suncoast and Tampa Metropolitan Area
“We care about the families and businesses we serve, and we looked for opportunities to support their needs,” said T.J. Szelistowski, president of Peoples Gas. “We are proud to help provide these critical services across the state through trusted partners from the Panhandle to South Florida.”
In addition to the company’s contributions, Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas employees have banded together to provide assistance to those in their communities needing additional help by setting up a company-wide Virtual Food Bank Drive in partnership with Feeding America affiliates.
Thousands of dollars have already been raised with each dollar being matched by TECO’s parent company, Emera. The Virtual Food Bank provides assistance to Feeding Tampa Bay, Feeding South Florida, Feeding Northeast Florida, the Harry Chapin Food Bank, Feeding the Gulf Coast and Second Harvest of Central Florida.
At the start of the pandemic, Tampa Electric and TECO Peoples Gas committed $1 million to support Floridians. $500,000 was dedicated to the Share program administered by the Salvation Army, to help support customers who cannot pay their utility bills. Share has helped nearly 4,000 customers pay their electric and/or gas bills and to date, more than 20,700 Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas customers have received utility-bill assistance through hundreds of partner agencies across the state.
In March, due to the pandemic, Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas voluntarily and temporarily suspended disconnecting service to all customers for non-payment. Throughout the suspension, which lasts through the end of August, customers have been asked to pay what they can to avoid accumulating a large balance.
Several proactive communications have been sent to impacted customers, making them aware of the many options available for avoiding disconnections in September.
Customers are encouraged to either make a full payment, a partial payment as part of a flexible, interest-free payment extension or to apply for financial assistance through the many avenues available.
Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas continue to work closely with various partner agencies throughout the state, guiding customers who are experiencing a COVID-19 hardship toward the help they need.