With many Kentuckians being forced to stay away from work during the current pandemic, the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) and some local municipal utility companies are offering relief to their customers.
According to a press release, the PSC has ordered all utility companies under its jurisdiction to suspend until further notice, and for at least 30 days, all disconnections for non-payments and late payment fees.
In the same press release, the PSC states that disconnections pose a risk of COVID-19 transmission to utility employees and are a waste of utility resources at a time when there is a pressing need to ensure continuity, and thus adequacy, of service.
Other actions taken by the PSC to prevent the spread of the virus include allowing utility companies to temporarily close their offices or limit business hours.
The PSC emphasized that delaying disconnections in no way relieves customers of the obligation to ultimately pay for utility services, but the PSC said it expects utilities to establish “lenient and flexible payment plans” for customers who fall behind.
Those utility companies under the jurisdiction of the PSC include Cumberland Valley Electric who have announced that they are following the PSC’s orders and have also closed their offices beginning March 17.
Cumberland Valley Electric customers who are able to pay their bills now are able to do so by utilizing the company’s drive-thru windows. Cumberland Valley asks that customers know their account number when paying their bill through the drive-thru window. If a customer does not know their account number, they can call 1-800-513-2677.
Customers may also make payments by calling the same number and picking option number 2, via mail, or the Smarthub app on their smart phone, laptop, or tablet. For more information visit Cumberland Valley’s website at www.cumberlandvalley.coop.
Kentucky Utilities have also announced that they too are suspending disconnections and waiving late fees for residential customers. The company is also suspending disconnections and late fees to business owners until at least May 1.
Customers may pay their bill via phone by calling 1-800-981-0600, via mail, or by visiting https://lge-ku.com/.
Both the Knox and Whitley County Water Districts have announced that they are following the PSC’s orders. Both water companies have closed their lobbies to the public, but are still taking payments via their drop boxes or over the phone. For the Whitley County Water District, call 606-549-3600. For Knox County Water District, call 606-546-5300.
While the Corbin Utility Commission isn’t under the PSC’s jurisdiction, General Manger Ron Hurd told the Times-Tribune that the commission voted Wednesday to suspend disconnections and late fees, as well as the processing fees for debit/credit card payments and online payments.
Herd said he encourages customers to pay what they are able, as customers will have to pay off what is owed after the temporary suspensions are lifted. He went on to say that the company would work with customers and help set up payment plans once bills are due again.
Corbin Utilities have also closed their lobbies to the public. Customers who are able, can pay their bills through the company’s drive-thru, online, or via phone by calling 606-528-4026.
Herd also told the Times-Tribune that he had talked with the commission about permanently canceling the processing fees for credit/debit cards, and online payments permanently. A decision will be made at a later time.
Currently, there isn’t a set time for how long Corbin Utilities will suspend payments, but Herd said they are monitoring what the PSC recommends, saying that everyone needs to be consistent.
Although an official statement hasn’t been released yet, General Manager of Barbourville Utilities Josh Callihan told the Times-Tribune that the company would be suspending disconnects during this time.
“We’re going to try to work with folks as far as any kind of cutoff or penalties or anything like that,” he said. “Anybody that’s got any issues due to being laid off from the virus or whatever, we’re trying to work with those folks.”
Like the other utility companies, Callihan says Barbourville Utility customers will have to catch up on their bill once the suspension has been lifted.
“So, we ask them to try to pay what they can. They can call in and talk to us about it and make arrangements.”
To call and make payment arrangements dial 606-546-3187. Barbourville Utility customers can also make payments via the utility company’s drive-thru windows or by visiting www.barbourville.com.
Williamsburg City Mayor Roddy Harrison announced in a video posted on his Facebook page, that the city of Williamsburg would suspend disconnecting water or sewer services for 60 days.
Again, customers who are able, should pay what they can to help prevent owing a larger amount once the suspensions have been lifted.
“I do want to encourage you to try and pay your bill on time,” Harrison said in his video. “But if necessary, and you can’t, we’ll work with you.”
While Williamsburg City Hall is closed, customers can still make payments via city hall’s drive-thru window, or by calling (606) 549-6036.