SCANA, SCE&G Responds to SCHotline Post of Rumored “Disconnect” Policy Changes
Saw your post. No, we have not changed our disconnect policy. In order for us to change that policy, we would first have to obtain approval from the Public Service Commission of South Carolina.
SCE&G is in the business of providing reliable electric and natural gas services to its customers. When a customer does not pay his/her utility bill, there are a number of steps that we take to address the situation. The last step – and the least desirable – for dealing with a customer who has not paid his/her bill is to disconnect that customer’s power.
Service disconnects – especially those that coincide with inclement weather – are handled on a case-by-case basis, and include a consideration of immediate weather forecasts and a review of the customer’s payment history.
Before any customer’s power is disconnected, that customer is given multiple opportunities to pay a “past due” bill. Customers are provided a specific date and time by which to pay to avoid disconnection of electric and/or natural gas service. The first past due notice is an attachment to the customer’s monthly bill. It is displayed in the bill message portion and is marked IMPORTANT NOTICE. This notifies the customer – at least 10 days prior to the possible termination of service — of our intent to disconnect power. Four days prior to the forecasted disconnect, the customer is mailed a second notice marked FINAL NOTICE, providing yet another opportunity to bring the account into good standing.
Through our Third Party Notification Program, we also provide an added “safety net” for when customers get a past-due disconnect notice. This program allows customers to provide the name and address of another individual who can be notified by mail, along with the customer, when an account becomes delinquent. This person can be anyone the customer wishes, such as a friend, relative, neighbor, clergy or even a social agency. The third party is not responsible for paying the bill, but they can help ensure that the customer is aware of their situation, especially during extreme weather conditions. The customer simply calls 1-800-251-7234 to enroll in the Third Party Notification Program.
In instances where a customer has demonstrated a good faith effort to pay the bill, but is struggling financially, we work directly with that customer at their request to offer payment options and arrangements for the customer’s individual situation.
For customers in need of special assistance, we work to help them understand the types of financial assistance programs that may be available to them. Those programs include financial assistance made available through the generous donations of SCE&G employees and customers.
SCE&G customer service representatives also regularly refer customers in need of assistance to local community action agencies that specialize in providing that assistance.
Scana Public Affairs