Energy companies see increase of customers struggling to pay bills since COVID-19 started
Here are what some are doing to try and help.
This year Atmos Energy has provided help to over double the number of their customers compared to last year.
“So last year, just for FY19 we were able to help over 2,600 households and that is just in the West Texas area. So far, FY20 we’ve helped almost more than 4,700 households, so well more than double as you can see that we the increase,” said Michael Gonzales, manager public affairs at Atmos Energy.
Their partnership with Panhandle Community Services has also helped eligible customers in need of extra financial assistance.
“From a recent survey showed that more than half of our customers are paying you know, under half or are skipping a month’s bill at all. And you know they are making decisions where you know maybe something else is you know in line of a priority,” said Gonzales.
The company also has a program called Share the Warmth which provides an option to add a donation to their bill to help Atmos customers in need of more help to pay their utilities.
“There are payment arrangement options. If you can call our customer service. You can definitely go online of information for places of where to go in your areas as far as the community centers or calling 211 for help. There’s definitely finding there that the company has invested and with the Share the Warmth program and you know, state and federal funds that have been issued,” said Gonzales.
Xcel Energy is also doing payment arrangements.
The senior media relations representative says they’ve been working more closely with customers this year because of the pandemic.
“I think it’s really beginning to take a toll on our business classes, especially if you look at retail, restaurants and those types of customers. They’ve definitely experienced a lot of problems this year. So, we’re seeing more of those kinds of customers coming to us and saying we can’t pay the full amount, we need some payment arrangements,” said Wes Reeves, senior media relations representative at Xcel Energy.
Xcel Energy has partnered with the Salvation Army for an energy share program where customers can contribute donations through their bill which will help provide financial assistance to Xcel customers in need of help paying their bills.
It just launched and plans to have those funds available in the summer.
“I think, it’s just a season in which we talk about giving a lot, and so we have so many great nonprofits here and they’ve set up special funds this year; United Way has done that, we have the Amarillo Area Foundation giving away money to help people. So, there’s help available, it’s out there. It may be kind of a pain sometimes to go try and find it, but give us a call, we know where some of these funds are and we’ll be glad to connect you,” said Reeves.
Both companies have not done any disconnections during the pandemic knowing the struggles many are facing right now.
They say to call if wanting more information on how to get extra assistance.
Copyright 2020 KFDA. All rights reserved.