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Utility customers: Your unpaid pandemic bills are coming due

Tampa Electric Co. will resume normal billing and shutoffs this summer.

After a months-long pause during the pandemic, Tampa Electric Co. will resume disconnections later this summer for customers who don’t pay their bills.

Florida’s major utilities began a grace period for disconnections in March for customers who were unable to pay their bills because of hardships caused by COVID-19. Tampa Electric and its sister company, TECO Peoples Gas, extended that period through the end of July, spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said Thursday. Duke Energy Florida does not have a specific end date for its grace period.

Disconnections for Tampa Electric customers, Jacobs said, will resume in August. Customers who fail to pay their bill by its due date would have 12 days from their due date to pay before the utility disconnects them, Jacobs said.

“We know that some folks are still facing hardships,” she said. “We ask those customers to call us. We will work with you to make payment arrangements so you can avoid any disconnection.”

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

Unless customers contact Tampa Electric to work out a payment plan with the utility, any unpaid balance from the grace period will be due in their August billing cycle. The utility said it would provide interest-free extensions to those who are unable to pay their entire balance, and have financial assistance plans for qualifying customers.

Duke Energy, which also suspended disconnections for non-payment in March, has not yet determined a date that it will resume disconnections for unpaid bills. In a recent release, the utility said customers can expect to be notified a full billing cycle — about a month — ahead of when normal payments will resume.

“We would encourage customers to pay what they can so that the balance doesn’t continue to accumulate and make it difficult to pay in the future,” spokeswoman Ana Gibbs said.

Duke Energy said it will also work with customers on customized payment plans. Customers in need of billing assistance can call 800-700-8744 during the week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and visit https://www.dukeenergyupdates.com/ for more information.

Tampa Electric customers in need of assistance can call 888-223-0800 during weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on weekends from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Updates are also available online at tampaelectric.com/updates and peoplesgas.com/updates.

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