Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), a utility of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power, announced Tuesday (Aug. 16) that it will allow residential customers to waive late fees and set up payment plans for their bills as fuel costs rise and electricity demand increases.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. residential electricity prices are expected to be more than 6% higher in 2022, primarily because of high natural gas prices. Continued demand for natural gas to generate electricity has led to the high natural gas prices.
According to SWEPCO, its new measures are similar to programs offered during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The payment plan allows customers up to 12 months to pay their bills in full. Late fees can be waived, and in some cases, so can deposits.
“We understand customers are concerned about the rising cost of electricity across our region as we have experienced record-breaking heat this summer coupled with rising fuel costs,” said Malcolm Smoak, president and chief operating officer for SWEPCO. “We want to give customers every opportunity to keep their electric service connected at home. These new measures will allow customers the ability to continue paying toward their electric bill while giving them peace of mind knowing they will remain connected to their service.”
Residential customers who want to have their late fees and deposits waived must call 1-888-216-3523 to speak with a SWEPCO representative who can also help set up the payment plan. The flexible payment options will be available through Oct. 31.
Based in Shreveport, La., SWEPCO has more than 543,000 customers in three states, including Arkansas.