Florida – Has no rules, laws, or regulations in place to protect residents.
Georgia – Rules delay disconnection of utilities for 30 days with medical certification. Also, the power or gas company cannot disconnect service unless a bill is at least 45 days overdue and proper notification has been sent. No disconnect during protection dates if customer agrees and adheres to payment plan. Also, if the temperature is going to be under 32 degrees or excessive heat, then disconnection is illegal, so shut offs are limited during both the summer and winter per state laws.
First, you should always contact your utility company to find out about any programs they offer. Many utilities offer help via shareholder or community funded emergency payment assistance programs. These programs will provide cash assistance or credits to help offset the costs of cooling and heating homes, and they will provide needed help with escalating electricity bills.
There are also numerous other plans and options that will provide assistance if you need it. As an example, some utility companies offer payment plans to help you manage your energy bills, such as balanced payment plans. These will charge you a fixed amount each month so you can better budget your electric bill costs. Countless non-profit agencies and charities offer emergency financial assistance, and government grants can both help pay your energy bills, or be used to pay for energy conservation. Look into the organizations or programs below.
Individuals that are faced with a hardship can try to make their utility bills more manageable. Georgia Power Company will often enter into payment arrangements with the customer or individual to provide them more time to get back on track with paying their energy bills. Call them for more information regarding individual payment plans.
Budget Billing Another service is Budget Billing. This will charge the customer the same dollar amount each month on their Georgia Power bill. Then a true up will occur at least once per year. This will in effect average out the customers monthly expense based on the past 12 months of usage. So while it is not a form of direct financial aid, it does assist customers with budgeting and planning.
Once Georgia Power gives a 10 day grace period before disconnection for individuals with medically necessary machines like breathing machines and oxygen concentrators. If a letter isn’t received within 10 days, the electricity will be cut off on the 11th day. Call Georgia Power Customer Service for details 888-660-5890
The following items are necessary:
- A letter from a doctor on their letterhead stating that the machine is medically necessary and that substantial harm or death will result if electricity is cutoff.
- The patients name and date of birth.
- What equipment is being used and how often.
- The name of illness and expected length of illness. Doctor must state the severity. A hold can be from 30 days to 3 months.
- The address and stating that they live there
- Doctor’s name, address, phone number and signature
- The current date
- Georgia Power account number
- The letter must be faxed to Atlanta from doctor’s office to 678-623-7276
Home Energy Audit – Many utility companies, including Georgia Power, will offer these as a free service, or provide it for a very low fee. These audits will help identify where your home needs to be improved or updated in order to help reduce your energy usage. If an audit identifies an area that you can improve, some utility companies will even contribute towards the expense that is incurred to fix the home, if you meet their income criteria. Call Georgia Power for the audit and Coastal Plain for their Weatherization Program and the Georgia Power Assistance. In Lowndes County, this is handled by Coastal Plain. See Home Repairs/ Improvement