Commentary by Stan Pinegar
As COVID-19 takes a toll on our state, I’m encouraged by the spirit and resolve of Hoosiers. I’ve been awestruck by the selfless acts of those on the frontlines – from health care workers fighting the virus, to store clerks stocking the shelves with food, and so many more.
At Duke Energy, we feel a heightened sense of urgency because our service is critical to hospitals, essential businesses and homes across the state. We were reminded of that when storms ripped through Indiana April 8 causing approximately 140,000 power outages on our system. Our employees responded and worked around the clock to bring power back to hospitals, nursing homes, grocery stores, businesses and homes. They showed up knowing that keeping our power grid running in the face of unprecedented adversity for our customers is our top priority.
We’ve taken several steps to help relieve the financial burden on our customers and communities. In mid-March, our company stopped service disconnections for unpaid bills and waived late payment fees. We encourage customers who can pay all or a portion of their bill to do so to avoid building up a large balance that will be harder to pay off later. Customers should contact us about flexible payment plans.
A crisis like this can hit low-income groups the hardest, and through the Duke Energy Foundation, we have funded $100,000 in rapid response grants to food banks and other community-action groups across Indiana to address hunger relief and other urgent needs. Our shareholder-funded foundation also is providing $200,000 in grants to economic development organizations statewide that are aiding Hoosier businesses struggling in the economic wake of this pandemic.
This is an unprecedented time, and the safety and well-being of our communities, customers and employees is our top priority, just as it has been for more than 100 years.
Stan Pinegar is the Indiana president of Duke Energy.