PSC outlines process for Summit Utilities to resume disconnections, collect late fees

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 380 views 

The Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) outlined on Thursday (July 27) a process for Summit Utilities to discontinue its suspension of late fees and disconnections.

“Based on the evidence in the docket, the Commission is directing SUA [Summit Utilities] to resume late fees and disconnections no sooner than September 15, 2023, and to issue shut-off notices, under Rule 6.04 of the Commission’s General Service Rules (GSRs), no sooner than September 10, 2023, and directs SUA to offer a minimum of 18 months to customers for the Delayed Payment Agreement (DPA),” a PSC order read.

Summit said 47,014 customer accounts – of which 43,302 are residential – would be disconnected or in the process of disconnection if not for the previous suspension of disconnections.

The 18-month period for delayed payments covers a 10-month period where Summit voluntarily suspended collections and adds an additional eight months to reduce the amount of monthly payment installments.

The PSC ordered Summit to immediately begin communications with customer to provide “a description of the phase-in for disconnections, give the customer time to contact a community action agency or other organization for available assistance if needed, and give the customer time to sign up” for a delayed payment agreement. Those communications will be by website, email, mail, social media and local media, Summit said.

“At Summit, we want to do everything we can to help our customers who are having trouble paying their bills. We encourage those with outstanding balances to contact our customer service representatives as soon as possible to make payment arrangements, so we do not have to disconnect their service,” said Fred Kirkwood, chief customer officer for Summit.

“We have hired more than 75 customer service representatives since last year, and they are available to help customers who may have difficulty paying their bills understand the payment options available to them,” Kirkwood added.

In the fall of 2022, Summit voluntarily and temporarily suspended charging late fees and disconnections as the company worked through new billing systems and customer service platforms as it transitioned from CenterPoint to Summit.

Earlier this month, the PSC noted Summit largely resolved the issues raised by the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office and that Summit did not violate any PSC rules.

Eligible customers can sign up for a payment plan before the close of business on the last day to pay printed on their disconnection notice. Before the disconnection of service, Summit said it will send a disconnect notice in accordance with the PSC’s General Service Rules.

Summit Utilities, Inc. owns natural gas distribution and transmission subsidiaries that operate in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.