Companies make temporary changes to fees, policies

Companies make temporary changes to fees, policies
Logo provided by Cleco (Source: Cleco)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The economic impact of the coronavirus has prompted many major companies to make temporary changes to their fee policies for its customers.

On Friday, March 13 Governor John Bel Edwards declared a statewide Public Health Emergency.

Given the severity of these events, and the uncertain impact it may have on Commission-jurisdictional ratepayers, immediate action is required to ensure utility service is not disconnected for non-payment.

Cleco announced Friday, March 13 that it will temporarily suspend all disconnect and late fees.

“The well-being of our customers, contractors, employees and the general public is our primary concern as the coronavirus has now reached Louisiana and was recently declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization,” said Ron Smith, director of customer experience. “We don’t want our customers to have to worry about losing electricity and incurring late fees given the importance of electric power in preventing the spread of the virus.”

Cleco is enforcing the following preventative measures effective immediately and until further notice to help protect employees and the communities it serves:

  • Temporarily closing its 13 customer service offices across the state
  • Temporarily suspending customer service disconnects and late fees
  • Allowing some personnel to work from home while critical positions such as line mechanics and power plant workers continue working
  • Prohibiting all commercial air travel for Cleco business
  • Restricting consultants or contractors who are not critical to company operations from traveling to or working from Cleco office locations
  • Practicing social distancing by keeping three to six feet away from other employees, customers and contractors
  • Canceling large gatherings and face-to-face meetings

Cleco is a regional energy company that serves roughly 288,000 customers in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Related: Comcast offers free internet services to low-income families during outbreak, AT&T waives overage fees

Cox announced Friday, March 13 for the next 60 days not to terminate service to any residential or small business customer because of an inability to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

Cox will also waive any late fees, and will open Cox Wifi hotspots to help keep the public connected during this time of need.

“We support the FCC’s efforts to keep America connected during the crisis,” said Pat Esser, president and chief executive officer of Cox Communications. “We don’t want our customers who are impacted to worry about losing their Cox services. Our focus is on taking steps to maintain services provided to customers and the general public while ensuring the safety of our employees and customers.”

On Saturday, March 14, Atmos Energy announced they have temporarily suspended natural gas disconnections.

“Atmos Energy’s commitment to safety, paired with our culture, have led us during unique times. This will be no different,” said Kevin Akers, president and CEO of Atmos Energy.

When and if additional companies make announcements, we will add those to this story. Check back for more information.

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