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Columbia Business Monthly

Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas take steps to help customers, communities, employees in wake of COVID-19

Mar 24, 2020 10:17AM ● By David Dykes

Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas are taking a comprehensive set of steps to help customers, communities and employees manage the economic hardship caused by COVID-19, company officials said.

“This is an unprecedented crisis that requires an unprecedented response,” said Lynn Good, Duke Energy’s chairman, president and CEO. “We hope the customers and communities we are privileged to serve – and the outstanding Duke Energy employees who serve them – will take some comfort from these actions.”

More Help for Customers

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The company on March 21 began waiving late payment fees and fees for returned payments for its millions of electric and natural gas customers across its service territories. That will continue until the national state of emergency is lifted, company officials said.

For residential customers, the company will also waive fees for credit and debit card payments.

Earlier, Duke Energy said it would discontinue service disconnections for unpaid bills. That covers 7.8 million electric customers; plus, 1.8 million natural gas customers, many of whom are served by Piedmont Natural Gas.

“Our goal is to continue providing reliable service while helping our most vulnerable customers during this extraordinary time,” Good said.

Community Assistance

The company also announced $1.3 million in donations by The Duke Energy Foundation to support hunger relief and help local health and human services nonprofits across its service territories, including those providing meals to children and families impacted by school closures. Duke Energy said it is giving nonprofits the flexibility to use the funds where most needed.

Relief for Employees

Duke Energy also is expanding assistance to employees. 

The company is providing five additional personal days off to employees who experience a disruption in dependent care due to school, daycare or other child-related care since schools are not in session. 

Duke Energy also will provide a $1,500 stipend to assist with unplanned expenses resulting from costs related to COVID-19 issue to employees at a certain pay threshold.

Further, the company is donating $100,000 to the Relief4Employees program, a fund that employees can draw on for short term financial help during times of personal need.

Continued service to customers

The company said it will continue to read meters in most areas and send bills. Customers should pay what they can to avoid building up large balances that will be more difficult to pay off later, company officials said.

Duke Energy said its power plants, electricity and natural gas delivery facilities and call centers are all staffed. The company will continue to respond to power outages and other emergencies.

Duke Energy said Customers should download the company’s mobile app or visit duke-energy.com or piedmontng.com for information and most service transactions. Customers who are unable to self-serve can still contact the company:

  • Duke Energy Carolinas: 1-800-777-9898
     
  • Duke Energy Progress: 1-800-419-6356
     
  • Piedmont Natural Gas: 1-800-752-7504.
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