Moratorium on Disconnections of Electric Service For Non-Payment Ends This Month
The Hawai´i Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will end the state’s moratorium on electric disconnections for nonpayment on May 31, 2021.
Hawaiian Electric has announced it will not disconnect customers with past due accounts immediately following the end of the moratorium, and those struggling to pay their bills will still have options to keep the lights on.
But customers are urged to act now to set up a payment plan to avoid disconnection in the future. Customers may go to hawaiianelectric.com/payment arrangement to see payment plan options, including an 18-month plan for residential customers, and submit a request. (Late fees and interest are waived while on a plan.) The payment arrangement request form and an informational flyer are available in eight languages on Hawaiian Electric’s website.
To ensure the lights stay on, thousands of residential and smaller commercial customers who meet the threshold for disconnection will automatically have their balance rolled into a 12-month payment plan starting in July. The auto-enrollment will apply to customers behind on payments who do not make contact with Hawaiian Electric. Those customers will receive a notice with their bill when the payment plan starts that explains how the arrangement works, including instructions on how to opt out.
Bills for customers on payment plans, auto-enrolled or by customer request, will include the current charges, plus the installment amount. The installment amount will differ for each customer. If a customer’s past due amount is small, the installment amount will also be a fraction of the bill. However, if a customer has not made any payment toward their account over this past year, the total monthly bill could more than double.
Here’s an EXAMPLE of how a 12-month payment option works:
One-twelfth of the past due balance must be paid every month over 12 months – in addition to your current charges. On the first month of the installment plan, the Amount Due will include your current charges + 1/12 of your outstanding balance.
• Let’s say a customer has an outstanding balance of $1,200.
o Divide the balance by number of months in payment plan:
$1,200 divided by 12 = $100
o If the current charge is $150, the customer owes $150 +$100. Total amount due will be $250.
o The customer must pay the additional 1/12 outstanding balance, plus current charge, for 12 consecutive months.
If a customer does not pay the amount due while on a payment plan, it may trigger collection activity and service may be disconnected at some point in the future. Contact Hawaiian Electric right away for assistance or to make an adjustment to the payment arrangement.
Customers experiencing hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged to seek government and nonprofit agency assistance. Hawaiian Electric does not administer these programs, but it works with many of these agencies. See a listing of resources at hawaiianelectric.com/COVID19.
• Counties are disbursing millions of dollars in federal funds to renters who meet certain income qualifications. These funds can be used for rental and utility payments.
▪ Oʻahu renters are urged to frequently check oneoahu.org/renthelp for updates. Another round of applications will be accepted Monday, June 7.
▪ Maui County renters/landlords may go to https://mauicounty.gov/MauiRentHelp or call (808) 873-4673 to learn more.
▪ On Hawaiʻi Island, six nonprofits are administering the rental and utility aid. Read Hawaiian Electric’s news release for the list of nonprofits.
• Eligible customers may apply for energy credit from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program during the month of June. The amount of the credit provided varies. Visit Hawaiian Electric’s website for LIHEAP information and an application.
• Commercial customers can visit the state’s Business Development and Support Division’s resource page for available assistance.
• Restaurants can review information on the federal Small Business Administration’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
For assistance managing energy costs, Hawaiʻi Energy is a trusted resource for tips and rebates to help offset the costs of energy-saving equipment and services. Visit https://hawaiienergy.com/tips for more information.