When the coronavirus pandemic started this spring, Tampa Electric and TECO Peoples Gas took action to help customers facing unexpected financial hardship. We voluntarily suspended disconnecting service to all customers for non-payment in March, and we extended that suspension for six months.
This break has given residential customers a chance to focus on the health and safety of their families, and, for commercial customers, the opportunity to focus on the strength of their businesses. Thousands of customers benefited from this measure. However, over time, the unpaid amounts continue to grow. Those amounts can become unmanageable for customers, which is a situation we know customers want to avoid.
As we transition to our standard collection and disconnection practices in the coming days, we know some customers may still face difficulties. We continue to offer multiple resources to seek financial relief, which has benefited tens of thousands of customers. And there is still an opportunity for customers to get financial assistance from local and federal sources. It is our goal to not disconnect anyone’s service, and we need your help to achieve it.
If you are unable to pay your bill, please call us as soon as possible so we can work together to keep your utilities on. We offer flexible, interest-free payment extensions, and, for those who qualify, we can connect you to organizations offering financial assistance. If you prefer to talk to one of our customer service professionals, they can help you with one or more of our assistance options. They are available by calling 888-223-0800 weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can also consult our COVID-19 response pages at tampaelectric.com/updates and peoplesgas.com/updates, where you can set up a long-term payment extension with a small down payment.
We are committed to keep doing the right thing for our customers. Our two companies have donated $1 million to community partners who help those in need, including $500,000 to Share, a program administered by the Salvation Army to help customers pay electric and natural gas bills. Our employees also have raised more than $55,000 for food banks across Florida.
We are here, standing ready to help.
Nancy Tower is president and chief executive officer of Tampa Electric. T.J. Szelistowski is president of TECO Peoples Gas.