Greenfield offers payment plan for utility customers

0
771

GREENFIELD — As Indiana ends a moratorium on late payment penalties and service disconnections for utility customers, the city of Greenfield will introduce a payment plan allowing customers to pay off any late payments over four months.

Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive order calling a temporary halt to payment penalties and disconnections expires on June 30, and the city will resume penalty and disconnection procedures. Customers who have lost income due to the COVID-19 public health crisis and business closures won’t need to pay back all overdue utility fees right away, however.

Greenfield Utilities will be providing a four-month installment plan for all residential customers with a balance on their electric, water or sewer bills as of their July billing date. The outstanding balance will be divided into four equal payments and itemized as installment payments on each of the customer’s next four monthly invoices. For example, a customer with a $400 balance would pay $100 each month for four months. No interest or additional fees will be incurred.

Customers enrolled in the plan will need to pay each month’s installment in addition to their monthly charges to avoid disconnection.

Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell said that of Greenfield’s approximately 10,250 residential utility customers, about 7% have fallen behind on utility bills since Holcomb declared a public health emergency on March 16.

“Everybody seems to be paying as much as they can,” Fewell said.

Jane Webb, office manager at Greenfield Utilities, said the office typically has between 80 and 100 shutoffs per month. She said she was pleasantly surprised by the relatively low number of people who have fallen behind over the past months.

“It’s not a high number, as high as it could have been,” she said.

The city made the decision to enroll everyone who is late on payments in the plan rather than trying to determine whether individual customers’ incomes were affected by the pandemic.

“We don’t want to make the decision on who should get some help and who shouldn’t,” Fewell said.

Fewell said commercial customers that may have difficulty paying late bills should also reach out to Greenfield Utilities.

“We want to help them, too,” he said.

Greenfield Utilities has three billing cycles based on at what point in the month a customer’s bill is accessed. Cycle 1 customers will be billed on July 6 with payment due July 25, Cycle 2 customers will be billed on July 15 with payment due Aug. 5, and Cycle 3 will be billed July 27 with payment due Aug. 15.

If you currently have an outstanding balance and would prefer not to be enrolled in the plan, you should have a $0 balance on your utility account by your July billing date; or contact the utility office at (317) 477-4330.

Other utility companies also plan to offer their customers options once the moratorium on shutoffs ends.

NineStar Connect, which provides electric, water and wastewater utilities to many Hancock County residents, posted a statement on its website encouraging customers to contact the company if they need to schedule a payment plan on their accounts. NineStar’s customer service number is 317-326-3131.

Duke Energy, which also provides service in Hancock County, has currently suspended disconnections for non-payment nationwide and will provide notice to customers when that policy changes. It has also waived fees for customers to pay utility bills with a debit or credit card.

Angeline Protogere, a Duke Energy spokeswoman, said the company will follow guidance from Holcomb’s office and the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission about when to resume disconnections. Customers will have at least 30 days to discuss options for payment before the moratorium ends.

“Customers have the option to request an extension or set up an extended payment arrangement on any past-due balance,” a statement on Duke Energy’s website says. “These deferred installments are in addition to future bills. We encourage customers to stay as current as possible to avoid building up a large balance that is difficult to manage later.”

The company’s website, dukeenergyupdates.com, also provides information on non-profit agencies and government programs currently assisting low-income customers with bills. Its Indiana customer service number is 800-521-2232.