The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) is calling on the state’s electric and natural gas utilities to work with customers who are having difficulty paying extremely large heating bills in the wake of the cold weather this winter.
In a letter sent to the chief executives of the utilities, the PSC asks that utilities “be as flexible as possible…in avoiding disconnections and in allowing customers to make arrangements to extend their payments.”
“We know that utilities in Kentucky are sensitive to the fact that these very large bills have come as a shock to many customers,” PSC Chairman David Armstrong said. “The PSC is confident that utilities will do all they can to assist customers who may have trouble paying their bills in full by the due date.”
PSC regulations allow utilities to set up plans that allow the bills to be paid over a specified time period.
Utilities also offer special help to lower-income customers, in addition to the assistance offered by the state via the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.
A number of utilities have announced increased corporate contributions to their assistance programs.
The PSC letter also asks utilities to further encourage customers to enroll in budget-billing programs, which all electric and natural gas utilities are required to offer.
The programs allow customers to pay the same amount each month, based on their average monthly usage during the year.
This reduces large seasonal fluctuations and has the effect of spreading winter heating costs over months when energy usage typically is lower.
PSC’s Division of Consumer Services can provide information about billing issues, including budget billing, payment plans and similar matters.
The division can be reached via the PSC’s toll-free consumer hotline, 800-772-4636.