CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas announced that they are adding steps to help customers who are suffering financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The additional steps build on the swift actions both service providers offered to help customers at the start of the response to the pandemic. Both suspended key credit processes, including disconnections for nonpayment, late payment fees and fees for credit card and other payments.
The company also donated $6 million for COVID-19 relief efforts in Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee.
“We were proud to give our customers peace of mind that their electric and natural gas services would remain on as pandemic conditions left many families without incomes,” said Barbara Higgins, Duke Energy senior vice president and chief customer officer. “Now, we want to help customers prepare as states contemplate fully reopening their economies.”
Enhanced Customer Care
Duke Energy is monitoring restart activities and local orders in each of the states where the company operates to determine when standard billing and payment practices can resume, and those timelines may be different.
“The financial impacts from this pandemic are far from over,” Higgins said. “We will be following the states’ lead for when we resume options, and while the timelines may be different, our commitment to customers and the solutions-focused care we offer will be abundant and consistent.”
Expanded Assistance Options
Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas will continue to provide assistance to residential and business customers whose accounts have fallen behind due to illness or lost wages.
Support for these efforts include:
- Online tools so customers can directly choose an extended payment arrangement that best fits their needs.
- Simplified processes for accessing Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and other funds available through communities’ agencies.
- Professional guidance for small business customers to help analyze their energy usage, discuss energy rates and identify solutions to help lower their energy bills as they are reopening.
- Continued waiving of credit / debit card and walk-in payment fees for residential customers for an additional two months, once billing and payment practices resume in their states
“We encourage customers who are, understandably, behind in their payments, to take advantage of these resources now and to continue paying what they can to avoid large bill balances that may be difficult to manage later,” Higgins continued.
What Customers Can Expect
Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas customers will receive direct communication from the companies when standard billing and payment processing is expected to resume. Regardless of the timeline, all customers will have at least one full billing cycle to prepare, discuss options and make payment arrangements.
The company anticipates higher than normal call volume as operations return to normal and encourages customers to consider using the online self-service options now to avoid long wait times.
Customers should download the company’s mobile app or visit duke-energy.com or piedmontng.com for information and most service transactions. Customers who are unable to self-serve can contact the company:
- Duke Energy Carolinas: 1-800-777-9898
- Duke Energy Progress: 1- 800-452-2777
- Duke Energy Indiana: 1-800-521-2232
- Duke Energy Ohio/Kentucky: 1- 800-544-6900
- Duke Energy Florida: 1-800-700-8744
- Piedmont Natural Gas: 1-800-752-7504
Duke Energy’s customer service specialists are available Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to assist customers with customized payment plans that meet their specific situations.
Piedmont Natural Gas customer service specialists are available Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Customers who need financial assistance are encouraged to visit 211.org to locate available resources. This free service can help customers find local community agencies providing assistance with a wide range of needs including:
- Utility bills
- Housing, food and other essentials
- Child and elder care
- Medical expenses and health counseling
To get started, simply visit 211.org or dial 211 from your phone.