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The pandemic and now unprecedentedly high electricity bills have put the spotlight on utility assistance programs for residential customers struggling to pay their bills.

Central Florida utilities have their main programs based on employee and customer donations, which are then matched by the utility. Billing assistance ranges from $100 to $1,000 per client per year.

“With price increases for many products and services and families affected by the last two major hurricanes, Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, we know our customers are feeling the strain,” said Linda Ferrone, Orlando Utilities Commission Chief Customer and Marketing Officer.

To qualify for payment assistance, an applicant must be a customer, show proof of bill hardship, such as medical expenses, car repairs, job loss, low income or other disruptions, and not violate utility codes. Rules vary, and many utilities rely on third parties to manage payments.

It’s also worth remembering that utilities can refer customers to a variety of other support programs. they just have to ask. “Are there other plans?”

Although utilities provide program information on their websites, a good way to start is to ask a customer service representative for directions.

“We want customers to take advantage of what’s out there,” said Ana Gibbs, a spokeswoman for Duke Energy. “Shutdowns are really a last resort. We want to help avoid that at all costs.”

Here are some customer support programs by utility:

  • Program: Share the Light Fund at duke-energy.com/sharethelight
  • Operated by 211.org for customers in Orange, Osceola and Seminole and Lake St. Vincent DePaul Society at 352-589-2603.
  • Recent history of residential customer support.
  • 2019: $465,000 to 775 households.
  • 2020: $424,000 to 707 households.
  • 2021: $510,000 for 851 households.
  • 2022: $888,000 to 1,480 households.
  • The Duke Energy territory covers 35 Florida counties and approximately 2 million customer accounts. Residential income in 2021 was $2.9 billion.
  • Care to Share, a program administered by the Salvation Army in Volusia and Brevard counties.
  • North and central Brevard customers can call 321-632-6060 and south Brevard customers can call 321-724-0494.
  • In Volusia, call 386-255-2594 in the Daytona area, 386-738-2406 in the DeLand area, and 386-410-3258 in the New Smyrna area.
  • Help history.
  • 2019: $1.3 million for 2,892 households.
  • 2020: $1.6 million for 2,924 households.
  • 2021: $3 million for 3,140 households.
  • 2022: $1.3 million for 3,100 households.
  • Program: Good Neighbor Utility Assistance Fund administered by the Osceola Council on Aging. For details, visit: osceolagenerations.org/kua-good-neighbor-program/
  • Help history.
  • 2019: $67,372
  • 2020: $154,949
  • 2021: $90,779
  • 2022: $184,592
  • KUA has 90,000 customers.
  • Program: CURE, Citizens Utility Relief Effort.
  • Managed by the Christian Care Center, a nonprofit community outreach group.
  • Contacts. Go to Leesburgflorida.gov Select “Departments” Under the Government tab on the left side of the screen, click on Finance.
  • Residential customers can receive up to $100 per year.
  • Help history.
  • 2019: $8,550 to 165 households.
  • 2020: $53,800 to 572 households.
  • 2021: $28,926 for 244 households.
  • 2022 to present: $30,500 to 305 households.
  • Leesburg has 23,000 residential electric customers and $37 million in annual residential revenue.
  • Program: Project CARE at OUC.com/projectcare
  • Managed by Heart of Florida United Way. Provides up to $500 per household over 12 months.
  • Support history (during this period OUC transitioned from a calendar year to a fiscal year);
  • 2019: $100,000 82 homes.
  • 2020: $2.6 million for 14,482 homes.
  • 2021: $282,473 to 1,174 homes.
  • 2022: From $445,239 to 1,372 homes.
  • 2023: Expect $700,000 to 2,185 homes.
  • OUC has 274,082 customers and annual residential electricity revenue of $323 million.

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