About 600,000 electrical customers in Florida have been notified in monthly payments since the coronary virus pandemic began beating the economy and causing massive job losses, according to government utility organizers.
While the total number of delinquent clients showed some improvement from the initial peak of the crisis, facility officials told the Florida Public Service Commission that the challenge is still in contacting multiple clients.
“I fear that their account balances will become out of control, and by the time they call us, this conversation will not be important anyway,” said Christopher Chapple, Florida’s vice president of customer service, Christopher Chappelle.
Some costs will eventually be written off, but the bulk – if the situation does not change or gets worse in the coming months – can fall on all customers.
Stephanie Morse, of the state’s general counsel office, who represents taxpayers on utility issues, warned regulators against using clients to guarantee utility profits.
“Clients should not bear all the costs of the general economic recession caused by the epidemic, while facilities are 100 percent protected or isolated when no other business or person in the rest of the country gets the same protection,” Morse said, the counselor.
The Office of the General Counsel supported companies that waived late fees, discontinued disconnects, and provided long-term payment plans to help customers catch up with late bills.
Morse suggested adding disconnect protection for the elderly and people with disabilities, while providing additional guarantees for low-income customers.
“We also received a number of questions from customers regarding more details about each facility’s policies,” Morse said. “They differ from one benefit to another at the present time in terms of their policies regarding late fees or other fees, what will happen when they actually resume the disconnection, and how long the customers will have to pay their bill.”
Committee Chairman Gary Clark said that regulators should devise a collection method for clients affected by the epidemic.
“To summarize our situation here, it is simply, as the best I can find, striking a balance between human emotional and physical needs and balancing that with what future financial influences will be and how this will be distributed,” Clark said.
In April, regulators agreed to provide a temporary bill for FPL, Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Co. customers. And Gulf Power. The savings resulted from passing lower-than-expected costs for natural gas to power the power stations. FPL, Duke and Gulf introduced savings in May, while Tampa Electric deploys them.
Chapple, who said FPL “takes customers now” when they ask for extended payment or late fee exemptions, said he expects most customers will now struggle to pay their bills to finally pay them.
FPL and Gulf Power, Inc. are part of NextEra Energy, Inc. , More than 350,000 late clients, totaling $ 100 million, according to the paperwork presented at the meeting.
Chapple said that FPL historically wrote an office about $ 6 million a year versus $ 12 billion in revenue. He added that the write-off was greater during the recession a decade ago.
As the epidemic spread, companies waived late fees and stopped disconnecting. Chaplin said that secession is still “the last resort” for FPL.
“For those working with our clients, for work with our customers, we will waive the late fees, make the payment arrangements, and connect them to the local aid agencies,” Chappelle said.
Duke has about 150,000 overdue accounts, combined due to nearly $ 18 million, according to the conference working papers.
In March the company suspended communication cuts, suspended late fees, waived debit and credit card fees and extended payment arrangements over a period of six months, up from three months.
“Many of our clients are very late in billing, and we want to make disconnection the last resort for these customers,” said Leslie Quick, vice president of customer care at Duke.
Kwik also noted that “at the moment, customers have no incentive or incentive to really make a payment or prepare themselves for payment arrangements.”
About 15,000 Duke customers have made an extended payment option.
Tampa Electric has approximately 92,000 overdue accounts, up 53 percent since March, while People Gas has about 34,000 overdue accounts, up 27 percent at the same time.