Xcel Energy to help customers struggling to pay bills during pandemic

Xcel Energy will begin helping customers who have fallen behind on electric bills during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a release, Xcel Energy will be delivering $17.5 million in assistance to residential customers who fell behind on the electric bill significantly during the pandemic.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the plan this week, which will help customers who may have the most trouble catching up on their bills.

In early 2020, the company voluntarily stopped disconnecting customers for non-payment and proposed the program to provide direct customer bill credits. Residential electric customers with balances of $1,000 to $4,000 who do not currently have a payment arrangement set up can enroll in this new program and receive bill credits for up to 75% of their current balance. When a customer enrolls, 25% will be provided as an upfront credit and the remaining 50% will be issued in equal monthly bill credits for the length of the payment plan.

“As challenges from the global pandemic continue to take their toll on our economy, we have many customers who have fallen far behind on their bills and, even with traditional assistance, may not be able to catch up,” said Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy-Minnesota. “We want to help customers who are most in need during this difficult time, and the Payment Plan Credit Program will provide direct relief to those who need it.”

Xcel Energy estimates it will be able to begin the process of implementing the plan and contacting eligible customers to set up payment arrangements later this spring. The company said it will also look for other available assistance options and connect them with agencies that may be able to provide additional help.

In addition to providing direct assistance to residential customers, Xcel is also working to support business customers who have seen reduced sales through the pandemic and have proposed more than $2.5 billion in accelerated and incremental energy infrastructure projects to help jumpstart the economy and create new jobs.