Customers have options for flexible, interest-free payment extensions and utility-bill assistance
To continue to help customers during the coronavirus pandemic, Tampa Electric and TECO Peoples Gas have extended their suspension of disconnections for non-payment through the end of July. The company originally announced they were suspending disconnections for non-payment in March.
“We are committed to continue doing the right thing for our customers, which is why we’ve been working to help residential and commercial customers who are experiencing unexpected financial hardship,” said Nancy Tower, president and chief executive officer of Tampa Electric. “We hope the temporary extensions that we offered over the past several months have helped relieve some of the pressure.”
Throughout the suspension, the companies have encouraged customers to pay what they can to avoid accumulating a large balance. They have also proactively communicated to impacted customers, making them aware of the many options available for utility-bill assistance and payment extensions. As the utilities transition to their standard collection practices, customers who are not able to pay their bill in full or have not made extensions yet are encouraged to contact Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas. Flexible, interest-free payment extensions are available, as well as financial assistance for those who qualify.
“We are encouraged that many people have been able to return to work as Florida’s businesses continue to reopen,” said T.J. Szelistowski, president of Peoples Gas. “We understand that for others, more time is needed. We urge those customers to reach out so we can help – just call us.”
In March, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas voluntarily and temporarily suspended disconnecting service to all customers for non-payment. The companies’ decision to extend the suspension through the end of next month provides customers several more weeks to apply for assistance or to make special and flexible, interest-free payment extensions before disconnections resume in August.
In addition to giving customers more flexibility, the companies are offering help in other ways:
- Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas donated $1 million to community partners who help those in need. That included $500,000 to Share, a program administered by the Salvation Army to help customers pay electric and natural gas bills. Through June 18, Share has helped more than 4,000 customers pay their utility bills. And in total, more than 17,000 customers have received utility-bill assistance through hundreds of partner agencies across the state.
- Tampa Electric also significantly decreased bills, with residential customers seeing a 20 percent reduction on summer bills, coupled with a reduced fuel rate for the second half of the year. In total, a typical residential customer will save about $90 through December. Business customers could see a reduction of 14 percent to 20 percent, depending on their usage. You can learn more at tampaelectric.com/rates.
TECO representatives are ready to assist customers at 888-223-0800 weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The companies continue to update our COVID-19 response pages at tampaelectric.com/updates and peoplesgas.com/updates with helpful information, including links to community partners like the 2-1-1 Crisis Center Network that has trained and supportive professionals who can refer customers to agencies for help with utility bill payment, food, housing and other assistance.
The utilities offer several tools to help customers use energy wisely – an area of expertise for Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas.
- Tampa Electric customers:
- Online Energy Audit – A free and easy way to identify ways you can save energy and money. Complete our Online Energy Audit at tampaelectric.com/energyaudit.
- Phone-Assisted Audit – If you prefer to speak with a Tampa Electric energy expert, our phone-assisted audit provides the same valuable information as our online audit. Just call 813-275-3909 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Neighborhood Weatherization – This free program helps qualified low-income customers manage their electricity costs by making their home more energy efficient. Learn more at tampaelectric.com/save or call 813-275-3909 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Energy Calculators – We offer several energy calculators that show how much it costs to run certain appliances and other electronic devices. Learn more at tampaelectric.com/save.
- Peoples Gas customers:
- Online Energy Audit – You can take advantage of our newly released free Online Energy Audit that helps identify ways you can save energy and money. Get started today at peoplesgas.com/onlineaudit
- Energy Calculators – Our list of energy calculators will help show you how much it costs to run select appliances. Learn more at peoplesgas.com/saveenergy.
Tampa Electric, one of Florida’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, serves about 780,000 customers in West Central Florida. Peoples Gas System, Florida’s largest natural gas distribution utility, serves more than 400,000 customers across the state. Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas are subsidiaries of Emera Inc., a geographically diverse energy and services company headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.