West Kentucky Utility Companies Work With Customers Ahead Of Moratorium Ending
The extended utilities moratorium issued by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is set to end next week. Two local utilities companies report working with customers for past-due balances while also managing large debt as a result.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission originally planned to lift the moratorium Oct. 20, allowing utility companies to create payment plans for past-due balances and begin disconnecting consumers who fell behind on payments. But on Oct. 19, Beshear extended that deadline to Nov. 6.
Benton Gas System Office Manager Jessica Scillian says they’re working with customers, but utilities companies also have bills to pay.
“We’re trying our best not to do disconnections. We don’t want to be the bad guy; we don’t want to do that. But in the same breath, we have an $85,000 debt that we’ve got to work on collecting.”
Scillian said between 100-110 consumers make up the $85,000 debt. The utility company automatically enrolled consumers onto payment plans if they owed more than a $25 outstanding balance. Scillian said this measure could put things back on track.
“From November for the next 18 months, we hope to be 90% up-to-date with what our delinquents would be.”
Benton Gas covers nearly all of Marshall County and serves approximately 6,500 consumers.
Paducah Water Office Manager Tillman Burnett said the moratorium extension gives the company and consumers a date to “get back to normal business.”
“We’re lucky. We’re a large enough utility where we were able to do the business we needed to do throughout the process. It’s the smaller utilities that are the ones that I worry about.”
Paducah Water covers most of McCracken County, including small areas of Graves and Marshall counties. Of their more than 27,000 consumers, nearly 900 have outstanding balances of 60 days or more—totaling around $180,000 of debt. Burnett said the company has cut back on projects in response.
“We’ve held off. We basically didn’t budget to kick off a lot of our projects or buy a lot of equipment until November or December, anticipating that it would be a little bit before we were able to start collecting all of our money.”
Burnett said Paducah Water expects to financially recover from the moratorium by the spring.