Advertisement

Coronavirus Florida: Duke Energy, TECO will not shut off power for unpaid bills

“We’re keeping the energy flowing to our customers because we know how vital it is to their lives,” Cherie Jacobs, spokeswoman for Tampa Electric, said.
Local utilities reassured customers that even if they experience financial hardship over the coming weeks, their power will stay on.  Pictured are linemen with Service Electric Co., a subcontractor with Duke Energy Florida, in Largo in January. [Douglas R. Clifford | Times]
Local utilities reassured customers that even if they experience financial hardship over the coming weeks, their power will stay on. Pictured are linemen with Service Electric Co., a subcontractor with Duke Energy Florida, in Largo in January. [Douglas R. Clifford | Times] [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | TImes ]
Published March 16, 2020|Updated March 16, 2020

Stories about the coronavirus pandemic are free to read as a public service at tampabay.com/coronavirus. Sign up for our DayStarter newsletter to receive updates weekday mornings. If this coverage is important to you, consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Tampa Bay Times at tampabay.com/subscribe.

• • •

As Tampa Bay braces for the spread of COVID-19, local utilities reassured customers that even if they experience financial hardship over the coming weeks, their power will stay on.

Tampa Electric Co., its sister company Peoples Gas and Duke Energy Florida will not shut off customers’ power if they fail to pay their bill during this portion of the pandemic. Tampa Electric said it will extend this policy “at least" through the end of the month, while Duke Energy did not give an end date.

“We’re keeping the energy flowing to our customers because we know how vital it is to their lives,” said Cherie Jacobs, spokeswoman for Tampa Electric.

Customers for both companies should continue to pay their bills as scheduled when possible, the utilities said.

“Customers should pay what they can to avoid building up a large balance that will be harder to pay off later,” Duke Energy said in a release.

The three utilities plan to limit physical interaction with customers by having some employees work from home and any non-essential visits rescheduled.

They will still respond to emergencies.

No employees from either Tampa Electric or Duke Energy Florida have been diagnosed with COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon.

Tampa Electric’s manatee viewing center near Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach is closed for the remainder of the season, but the manatees can still be viewed remotely from two webcams.

Both Tampa Electric and Duke Energy warned that customers may receive scam calls or visits during this period. Neither Duke Energy nor Tampa Electric will call to demand payment, ask for payment using gift cards or money orders or show up to a customer’s door regarding an unpaid bill.

• • •

Tampa Bay Times coronavirus guide

Q&A: The latest and all your questions answered.

EVENT CANCELLATIONS: Get the latest updates on events planned in the Tampa Bay area in the coming weeks.

PROTECT YOURSELF: Household cleaners can kill the virus on most surfaces, including your phone screen.

BE PREPARED: Guidelines for essentials to keep in your home should you have to stay inside.

STOCK UP YOUR PANTRY: Foods that should always be in your kitchen, for emergencies and everyday life.

FACE MASKS: They offer some protection, but studies debate their effectiveness.

WORKPLACE RISK: A list of five things employers could be doing to help curb the spread of the disease.

READER BEWARE: Look out for bad information as false claims are spreading online.

OTHER CORONAVIRUS WEBSITES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Florida Department of Health

Follow trends affecting the local economy

Follow trends affecting the local economy

Subscribe to our free Business by the Bay newsletter

We’ll break down the latest business and consumer news and insights you need to know every Wednesday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the coronavirus in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription.