The Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) issued a filing disclosed Monday (July 17) that will allow Summit Utilities to discontinue the suspension of late fees and disconnections within the next month.
“As a result of the foregoing testimony, the Commission finds that it is reasonable and in the public interest to discontinue the suspension of late fees and disconnection by SUA [Summit], effective no sooner than 30 days from the date of a subsequent Order addressing the issues raised herein,” the PSC ruled.
Summit Utilities, a natural gas company which has operations across Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, was ordered to continue suspending late fees and disconnections of service after Attorney General Tim Griffin asked the PSC to intervene. Summit had received a high number of customer complaints after taking over the accounts of Centerpoint Energy, which had served areas of Arkansas.
The company had initially suspended service disconnection and late fees in November while it changed over to a new customer service and billing system.
A spokesperson for Summit Utilities provided the following statement to Talk Business & Politics regarding the PSC decision.
“Summit is pleased with the Arkansas Public Service Commission’s order allowing us to soon proceed with normal collection practices, as directed by the APSC. In the meantime, if customers are struggling to pay their natural gas bill or have concerns about the bill, we recommend they call Summit Utilities at 1-800-992-7552, Monday through Friday, between 7 am and 7 pm. A Customer service representative can work with them to set up a payment plan or our customers can access bill pay options online by visiting our website, SummitUtilities.com.”
The PSC still has a decision to make on the time period for resolving customer accounts. The utility regulatory agency said once the suspension is lifted, there may be customers with outstanding past-due balances who will need to pay those balances over time. The PSC asked Summit to answer questions related to the number of customers in the resolution category, average past due amounts, and the range of the account balances.
AG Griffin has suggested a 36-month repayment period, while Summit argued for an 18-month repayment period.