Resources to Help Consumers With Utility Bills

A powerline utility pole.

Utilities are taking steps to allow for a return to normal business operations, while continuing to provide flexibility and assistance to consumers.

The South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) urges you to keep paying on time if possible so that your balance due does not get out of hand. Consumers are encouraged to pay their utility bills as they normally would to help avoid a larger balance later.

Governor McMaster has asked the utilities to work with their customers who need assistance. The Governor has also asked that utilities refer customers to local organizations or arrange payment plans to avoid or minimize penalties and service interruptions.

To help consumers, the Public Service Commission of South Carolina (PSC) has waived the requirement that deferred payment plans for regulated utility bills be limited to six months. This allows regulated utilities the ability to offer consumers a longer deferred payment plan.

Consumers are encouraged to contact their utility company to discuss options for paying utility bills.

Regulated electric and natural gas utilities offer “safety net” programs or benefits to help consumers in certain situations who may struggle to pay their bills. You may be able to take advantage of one or more of the following safety nets:

  • Special consideration or protection due to a medical condition
  • Referral to a local community organization to arrange for financial assistance
  • Specialized payment plans
  • Third-party notification to alert a friend, relative or organization if utility service is in danger of being disconnected

The South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) does not provide direct financial assistance but can share resources to help consumers with managing utility bills. Financial help for consumers to assist in paying utility bills is available through local community organizations. Consumers are encouraged to contact local community organizations to ask about financial assistance. For more information on Energy Bill Assistance, visit the Energy Office website.

If you’ve spoken with your utility, and the utility is regulated by the PSC and the ORS, and you still need help, ORS Consumer Services can contact the utility on your behalf. The ORS can check to see whether the utility has followed all applicable regulations. The ORS can also direct you to social services agencies that may have available funds to assist with your utility bills.

Consumers need to recognize scams. Utility companies will not call and threaten disconnection of service. If you see a scam, report the scam immediately.

Prepared by the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff.