Atlanta-based Southern Company, a major utility provider, announced temporary relief for customers who are not able to pay their bills due to the widespread coronavirus outbreak.
Atlanta Gas Light and Georgia Power, who are both owned by Southern Company, said they will not terminate services for customers due to nonpayment amid COVID-19 concerns.
“In recognition that the evolving landscape surrounding the new coronavirus may cause financial hardship for customers impacted by employment changes or business slowdown, Atlanta Gas Light has voluntarily suspended service disconnections for nonpayment for seven days as the company assesses the best path for moving forward for its customers,” spokeswoman Mekke Parish said Saturday.
The suspension applies to both residential and commercial customers, she said.
Atlanta Gas Light President Bryan Batson said the company understands the critical role its services play in communities “now more than ever.”
“We stand with the Georgia Public Service Commission in our commitment to ensuring that every family and company in our community has the fuel they need to continue heating their homes, cooking their food, taking warm showers and running their businesses,” Batson.
Georgia Power announced that is will suspend residential disconnections for 30 days starting Saturday “and will reevaluate the policy and timeframe as the situation develops.”
“Our teams are always prepared to respond in challenging situations and I am confident we will continue to meet the needs of our customers during this unprecedented time. It’s what we do,” Georgia Power CEO and President Paul Bowers said.
The company joins a growing list of utility providers that have suspended service cutoffs for people unable to pay due to COVID-19.
Jackson Electric Membership Corporation said it will suspend disconnection due to nonpayment starting March 16 through March 27 as a part of its pandemic response plan.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms recently issued an administrative order instructing the commissioner of Watershed Management not to terminate water services for customers due to nonpayment for the next 60 days.
“The health and well-being of Atlanta residents is at the forefront of everything we do as a city,” Bottoms said. “Access to water is paramount in the prevention of COVID-19 or any infectious health threat and no one should be deprived of this fundamental resource because of an inability to pay.”
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