The Cullman Electric Cooperative is resuming its normal policy regarding late fees and disconnections, and is reaching out to customers who are behind on payments.
Since about mid-March, the board suspended late fees and disconnections due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation.
“We’ve been going with that basically for two months,” said Bryan Lacy, manager of Communications & External Affairs. “This Monday we reinstated our normal policies. So for any new bills that started going out this week, if they aren’t paid on time then the normal late fees that are associated with that will apply.”
He said there are currently about 4,000 accounts that have not been paid, “at least double what it is on a normal month.” Cullman Electric Cooperative has about 44,400 member accounts, said Lacy.
He said they’ve been reaching out to those past due accounts and asking customers to contact them. “We want to give everybody time to contact us before we start doing any disconnects,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing we’re trying to get to people is ‘if you need help paying your bills, or you can’t pay your bill, now is the time to call us and see how we can help.’”
Lacy said the co-op has a couple of options for members to help them manage their payments going forward. “We can either work out a payment arrangement or switch them to prepayment service,” he said.
Even though people have been home more due to the coronavirus, Lacy said usage hasn’t been up a whole lot. March and April, he said, are typically low-power usage months because of the moderate temperatures and people not using heat or cooling as much.
“That’s been a benefit to a lot of people, even tough they’ve been home more they haven’t been running their air conditioner as much as you might think,” he said.