Florida Power & Light to Donate $15 Million in Bill Credits to Help Low-Income Customers Through 2021
By Space Coast Daily // November 17, 2020
eligible low-income residential customers will receive a $20 monthly bill credit through 2021, starting in December
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Florida Power & Light Company today announced its plans to expand its coronavirus (COVID-19) relief effort by donating $15 million in bill credits to benefit eligible low-income customers, as the company continues to support customers who are facing challenges amidst the global pandemic.
As part of the supplemental assistance, eligible residential customers who receive federal assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or the Emergency Home Energy Assistance for the Elderly Program (EHEAP) will automatically receive a $20 credit on their monthly bill starting in December that will extend through December 2021.
“Since mid-March, we have implemented a number of special policies – including offering payment extensions and waiving fees – to help our customers through the unpredictability and disruptiveness of the COVID-19 health crisis,” said FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy.
“This supplemental bill credit is another way that we are finding innovative solutions to help our customers, especially the most vulnerable in our communities. We will continue to help all of our customers who are still struggling through this global pandemic.”
The program, which will initially include an estimated 55,000 FPL customers who receive LIHEAP or EHEAP assistance, will be funded exclusively by shareholder contributions from FPL’s parent company, NextEra Energy. Shareholder contributions will also support enhanced communications aimed at raising awareness of the bill credit to customers who may qualify for LIHEAP or EHEAP assistance, but have never been recipients.
Last month, FPL sought approval from the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) to launch the proposed FPL Main Street Recovery Credit Program for eligible small businesses and independent stores. Pending FPSC approval, FPL plans to implement bill credits for eligible small businesses in the beginning of 2021.
Unwavering commitment to supporting customers
FPL’s plan to issue bill credits to low-income and small business customers comes on the heels of offering direct relief to customers in response to COVID-19, including those customers significantly behind on their bills.
Since September, FPL issued more than $15 million in bill credits to more than 112,000 residential and small business customers based on the status of their account and how long the account has been past due. Additionally, on Oct. 6, the FPSC unanimously approved FPL’s plan to accelerate deposit refunds to eligible residential customers who have paid on time and in full for the last 12 months.
FPL plans to begin issuing accelerated deposit refunds in December. The company is also planning to accelerate deposit refunds to eligible small business customers.
In addition to direct bill relief, significant federal funding remains available to help customers pay utility bills, including an estimated $33 million through LIHEAP. Customers can also apply for available CARES Act money that’s been distributed to communities across the state.
Additionally, FPL’s Care to Share Program, which provides bill payment assistance to customers, has been expanded due to the pandemic. Customers can contribute set monthly amounts, one-time donations or the option to round up their bill to the nearest dollar as a voluntary contribution to the program.
Working with customers to keep the lights on
In mid-March, FPL immediately began offering payment extensions and waiving late fees for customers experiencing hardship due to the pandemic, policies that remain in effect. During that time, the company also suspended disconnections for nonpayment and continued doing so for more than six months.
Through a careful and measured approach, FPL resumed issuing final notices in September beginning with customer accounts that have been past due since before COVID-19 became widespread in March.
To date, approximately 75% of customers who have received a final notice and passed their due date for payment have worked with FPL to make a payment arrangement and avoid disconnection for nonpayment. For those customers who were disconnected, more than 80% were reconnected following payment of their past due balance.
“Disconnection is always a last resort and we continue to work tirelessly to find every possible way to keep customers in service,” said FPL Vice President of Customer Service Christopher Chapel. “Our dedicated care center agents are working with customers one-on-one to find solutions, which many times includes walking customers through the process of accessing funding that’s available from numerous sources. Despite our widespread outreach efforts, many customers behind on their bill have not contacted us for help. Our message to customers remains simple: Call us if you need help.”
Customers can learn about available resources at FPL.com/Help and they can call FPL directly and toll-free at 800-226-3545.
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