Arkansas – With Arkansans getting closer each day to recovery from a year-long pandemic, a focus is coming back to paying off past bills, but there is help for those who need it.
The Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) has announced that the COVID-19 disconnection moratorium for regulated utility services will end on May 3.
Consumers with past due balances will now begin receiving disconnection notices to their mailing addresses from their utility companies providing at least a 35-day grace period before shut-off notices will be sent.
This applies to customers of Entergy, OG&E, SWEPCO, Liberty Utilities, CenterPoint Energy, Black Hills, Arkansas Oklahoma Gas, and the Electric Cooperatives.
“We are over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and Arkansas is recovering in more ways than one,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “I want folks who are going back to work, but still struggling to pay their bills, to know they have options.”
Rutledge also gave some helpful information for those who receive a notice from the utility company who still need help:
- It is important to take action immediately to seek assistance to avoid disconnection.
- Verify what you owe directly with your utility company. Information, including what is owed, must be provided in writing to each customer with a past due balance.
- Contact the utility company and discuss a payment plan if your bill is unaffordable.
- Utility companies are required to provide information regarding available payment options on their website and social media platforms.
- Utility companies are required to offer plans which provide a minimum of 18 months to repay any past due balances with no down payment required.
- Utility companies must also provide information regarding funds that may be available through assistance agencies or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
- Don’t fall for fake calls about utility bills!
- Verify the status of your account directly with the utility company. You should contact them. Do not assume that someone who contacts you works for the utility company. It could be a scam.
- Make all payments directly to the utility company.
- Drop off the payment at the utility company’s office or an authorized payment location.
- Pay online on the utility company’s website with a credit card or call the company directly.
- Consider participating in an automated bank account draft system if it is offered.
- Mail the payment to the utility company directly.
- Remember, a legitimate utility company will not pressure you to pay through a wire transfer, gift card, or prepaid debit card.
- The Public Service Commission does not regulate municipal utilities or private water companies, and customers of those utility companies are not affected by the PSC’s order.