Local companies trying to work with customers on bill payments during COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus and Electric Bills

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - For many working Americans, the first of the month comes with mixed emotions as bills come due.

The spread of COVID-19 and the government’s efforts to contain the virus have forced many retailers to close shop, causing millions of workers to lose their jobs.

But some businesses along the Grand Strand are trying to help.

With many people working and learning from home, they’re using their cable, internet and wireless devices more often.

Horry Telephone Cooperative said they aren’t disconnecting anyone during this time even if you can’t pay the bill right away.

Tom Vitt, the director of Public Relations for HTC, said they are giving out $2 million in revenue to their members to help the community.

That money when spread out to HTC members comes to about $20 in credit on their bill per broadband subscriber, and also includes the delaying of the $7 rate increase.

Vitt said for the credit, it’s important to remember you may not see it until the bill that’s due May 15 or June 15.

The rate increase was supposed to begin April 1 but has been postponed for at least 60 days.

Local businesses want to help but when the pandemic is over, you will still have a balance to pay.

“Folks will have to pay the amounts that have accrued but HTC will make accommodations and we will make payment arrangements for those folks," Vitt said. “One thing HTC has always done through the years is worked with our members to make payment arrangements in those kinds of situations, in these kind of situations, when the community is facing hardships like floods and hurricanes.”

If you have questions or want to figure out a payment plan, HTC urges members to give them a call.

As for electric companies, they also will not disconnect anyone for a lack of payment during the pandemic.

In a tweet Tuesday, Santee Cooper encouraged members to reach out if they anticipate having trouble paying their bill. The company said they are willing to work out payment plans.

Horry Electric Cooperative has also taken to social media to spread the word on ways you can cut back on your electric.

“Do what you can. We do not want people to fall too far behind," said Penelope Hinson with Horry Electric Cooperative. “We want people to be very conscious of how much energy they are using because once the emergency is over we will resume disconnects, so they need to keep up with their account best they can.”

Tracy Vreeland, public relations specialist for Santee Cooper, said you can also give them a call.

“They can call into our call center and they can set up based on that individual’s needs and where they are with their bills,” Vreeland said. “We are not doing any disconnects right now for anybody who falls behind on their bills, but we do encourage them to make a payment if they can so it doesn’t compound on them.”

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