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With disconnections resuming, hundreds opt for equal-payment plan offered by Danville Utilities
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With disconnections resuming, hundreds opt for equal-payment plan offered by Danville Utilities

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For residents facing the possibility of utility disconnection, Danville Utilities offers a program that could help keeps the lights on.

The city-owned utility resumed disconnections for delinquent customers Sept. 14 following a monthslong moratorium established when the coronavirus pandemic sliced jobs and slashed available cash for residents.

Even though the equal payment plan isn’t new, some changes to the program have made it an attractive alternative.

“Several hundred customers” have opted for the plan since the disconnections started this week, Carol Henley, service and billing customer account manager, said in a release from the city.

The plan works like this: With at least six months of billing history, an average monthly bill is calculated based on utility usage. If there’s a delinquent amount on the account, that’s also averaged into a new monthly payment. The first payment is due when the payment play takes effect, Henley said.

The plan has been around for years and used by folks who would rather pay the same amount yearlong instead of spikes in the summer when the air conditioning is running at full-blast or winter when gas usage soars.

Officials caution that once the plan is established, it must be followed. Missing a payment may mean the services will be cut off.

Residents who had income loss due to the pandemic may contact the Danville Department of Social Services to apply for help with paying past-due utility bills, the news release stated. Danville Utilities suggested that customers outside of Danville — Pittsylvania, Halifax and Henry counties — should check with local social services agencies to see if help is available there. Henry County, for example, does have a plan in allocated dollars from the CARES stimulus plan.

If residents receive financial help, that money can be used as a “pledge toward the first month’s payment,” the news release reported.

To establish the payment plan, customers should come to the Charles H. Harris Financial Service Center or send an email to customerservice@danvilleva.gov. In that email, customers need to include their account number, address and last four digits of their Social Security number.

With a current high call volume, Henley suggests using the email to contact the office with questions.

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