KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic continues to strain some financially, the Knoxville Utility Board and community partners announced how its struggling customers can get help with paying utility bills.
Through funding from the Federal CARES Act, grants, and local donations, $4 million was made available to help those in need keep the power on, according to KUB.
“We feel it’s necessary we make sure that we provide reliable and safe and affordable services. And in times like these, we need to do more than just that. We need to make sure those folks can get on their feet and get them back to normal,” Gabriel Bolas, president and CEO of KUB, said.
In mid-March, KUB suspended disconnections for nonpayment to help customers facing financial difficulties so they could continue to have access to reliable utilities.
KUB disconnections for nonpayment will resume Oct. 19.
Although the power can be cut again in mid-October, Bolas said that is the last thing they want to do.
TVA and KUB, along with the Knoxville-Knox Community Action Committee, Project Help, United Way, the city of Knoxville and the Knoxville Area Urban League partnered to make the $4 million available for those needing help pay their utility bills.
According to Jeannette Mills, executive vice president of the Tennessee Valley Authority, some of the relief efforts started from the top.
Mills said the recently introduced $200 million TVA pandemic relief credit for power companies in the Tennessee Valley will also bring costs down into the next year. The credit is essentially a 2.5% credit for the local power companies, according to Mills.
“When you think about, kind of COVID-19 in general, it’s really been a challenge for everyone. And the importance of today is about the word ‘partnership’ and us being together, and really helping our neighbors and our friends weather this unprecedented time,” Mills said.
Because customers were able to delay their payments through the seven months, some might have high total amounts that are difficult to make at once. KUB has created a payment plan for those who fall into the category.
If you need help paying you utility bills, call 211 or visit kub.org/help.
Bolas said the funding would not have been made possible without the community partners and donations. He said if you are able to donate, do so through United Way or Project Help.