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Arkansas customers behind on utility bills encouraged to seek options before disconnection

Arkansas utility customers with past due balances will get a grace period before shut-off notices are sent.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — At the end of March, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the COVID-19 disconnection moratorium for its regulated utility services is ending on May 3, 2021, according to the Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC).

Consumers with past due balances begin receiving disconnection notices to their mailing addresses from their utility companies providing at least a 35-day grace period before shut-off notices are sent. 

“We are over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and Arkansas is recovering in more ways than one,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “I want folks who are going back to work, but still struggling to pay their bills, to know they have options.”

Customers using Entergy, OG&E, SWEPCO, Liberty Utilities, CenterPoint Energy, Black Hills, Arkansas Oklahoma Gas, and the Electric Cooperatives.

David Lewis with Entergy says the last thing they want to do is cut off services for customers, because of past-due bills. 

"If you are in a rears, get in touch with us and work out arrangements now, because if you wait until you're disconnected it's going to be a whole lot worse. You're going to have to pay the entire amount due to turn it back on, plus a deposit, plus a late fee," said Lewis.

He says over a year ago, because of the pandemic, they have not cut off any customers not paying their bills. He's encouraging customers now with past due payments to get in contact with their companies.

"There comes a time when the world's kind of getting back to normal. That's happening now. That had to come to an end, and next week we're going to begin resuming disconnects for non-payment of bills."

In a response to the disconnection moratorium, SWEPCO said they're offering long-term, interest-free payment plans for Arkansas customers who are struggling to pay past-due bills during the pandemic.

“Customers may spread the cost of past-due bills over three, six, nine, 12 or 18 months. Our goal is to work together to find solutions that help customers manage their accounts and maintain electric service.”

Center Point Energy says to help customers avoid interruption of their service, they're offering several flexible payment options: 

"Including an 18-month delayed payment arrangement that is available for a limited time. Under this option, a customer can pay their overdue balance in equal installments for a period of up to 18 months. As long as the customer pays their current bill amount and the monthly installment by the due date each month, service will not be disconnected."