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Utility Companies Say Nonpayment Disconnections to Remain on Pause

Utility companies in Arkansas say they will continue adhering to an order not to disconnect customers who do not pay their bills, as the COVID-19 crisis stretches into the summer months.

   Under an April 10th order from the Arkansas Public Service Commission, regulated utilities cannot disconnect customers for as long as Governor Asa Hutchinson’s state of emergency declaration persists, or until the commission rescinds its order.

   The Governor extended his emergency order for an additional 45 days on June 18th, meaning the state of emergency is scheduled to expire on August 3rd.

   Before the Public Service Commission’s order, many utilities in Arkansas providing gas and electricity had already promised not to disconnect customers for lack of payment amid the pandemic.

   According to a spokesperson for SWEPCO, about 17% of customers are behind on their payments at the moment. That’s an increase since the start of the pandemic. SWEPCO has announced a number of flexible bill payment options to help customers get back on track. For more information, call toll-free 1-888-216-3523 or visit www.swepco.com.

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