Gulf Power today announced plans to begin offering direct relief to customers significantly behind on their energy bills due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and to those small business customers who have diligently paid their bills but still have a deposit with the company.
Residential and small business customers may be eligible for a bill credit of up to $200 based on the status of their account and how long the account has been past due. To receive the direct bill relief, eligible customers will need to pay their total outstanding balance, net of the bill credit. For example, an eligible customer who has a total outstanding balance of $600 would need to pay $400 to qualify for the maximum one-time credit of $200.
Eligible customers have been pre-identified based on their account status. Gulf Power will communicate directly with eligible customers through email or direct mail to explain the steps required to obtain the bill relief. Customers who are past due on multiple bills can also go online to their Gulf Power account to check for eligibility and view offer available.
“We remain committed to doing everything we can to support customers experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19, including offering direct bill relief to eligible customers to help them get back on their feet,” said Gulf Power President Marlene Santos. “While most of our customers have continued to pay their bills on time, others may be struggling – and we want to help.”
In addition to direct bill relief, Gulf Power continues to help customers with payment extensions and connecting them with available financial assistance. Gulf Power is also planning to accelerate deposit refunds for eligible small business customers, depending on rate class; the company already returns deposits for residential customers after 12 months of on-time bill payment.
Other ways customers can seek assistance
Federal funding for Florida’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has increased nearly 60% due to the pandemic. Customers can also apply for available CARES Act money that’s been distributed to communities across the state. Additionally, local agencies have funds available to assist customers with utility payments.
- Customers can dial 2-1-1 from any phone to seek assistance. If the telephone provider does not connect you when you dial 2-1-1, use (866) 728-8445.
- Customers can also refer to their county of residence for information on potential funding for utility assistance funding.
- Additionally, customers can visit GulfPower.com/Help to find a list of assistance agencies, information about LIHEAP and seek assistance through Gulf Power’s Project SHARE payment assistance program, which is managed by The Salvation Army.
Refining COVID-19 policies
As the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect our customers early this year, Gulf Power immediately offered payment extensions and information on financial assistance for customers experiencing hardship due to the pandemic, policies that remain in effect. The company has also suspended disconnections for nonpayment. Through a measured approach, Gulf Power will resume issuing final notices beginning with customer accounts that have been past due since before COVID-19 became widespread in March. For customer accounts that receive a final notice but do not pay their past-due balance or contact Gulf Power to make payment arrangements, disconnections are planned to begin in mid-November.
Customers can learn about available resources at GulfPower.com/Help or call Gulf Power directly at 800-225-5797.