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Utilities reinstituting shutoff policies

by Jeff Haldiman | June 27, 2020 at 5:05 a.m. | Updated June 27, 2020 at 12:36 p.m.

Most utility companies that serve Central Missouri customers will resume shutoffs after stopping those procedures early in the COVID-19 emergency.

Ameren Missouri gave notice this week the company plans to reinstate reconnection and late payment fees July 15 for larger non-residential customers and Aug. 3 for residential and small non-residential electric and natural gas customers.

Ameren customers are encouraged to reach out to the company now if they are having trouble paying their bill by visiting or calling 1-800-552-7583.

Missouri American Water, the major drinking water supplier for Jefferson City, began to stop shutting off water service for customers who haven't paid their bill in March. As of Friday, Missouri American Water officials said they had not changed their policy.

At Cole County Public Water District No. 1, the board of directors decided to resume turnoffs in July.

Cole County Public Water District No. 2 officials said they have resumed turnoffs and collecting penalties, while officials at Cole County Public Water District No. 3 said they will resume shutoffs and penalties in July.

Cole County Water Public District No. 4 officials said they made no formal changes to shutoff procedures, but they can work with customers to make payment arrangements.

CoMo Electric Cooperative Officials said nothing has changed since they returned to their normal billing process in May, which included disconnects for delinquent accounts after April 30.

No one available was for comment Friday at Three Rivers Electric Cooperative.

In May, the Missouri Public Service Commission opened a working case to consider best practices for recovery of past-due customer payments after the COVID-19 emergency. Once the emergency has passed, commissioners said, utility companies will be faced with the question of how to collect past-due accounts receivable without "unduly burdening their vulnerable customers."

The PSC has directed its staff to investigate the question and other relevant concerns arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and file a report by Aug. 3.

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