Assistance with electric bills in NC—Who you can turn to for help
North Carolina residents can benefit from a variety of programs that assist with electric and other utility bills. NC power companies, together with government agencies, charities, and churches, donate funds to help everyone keep their light and heating on.
If you are struggling to keep up with all the bills, you should know that you can always apply for one of these programs to get help. It would be wise, though, to become more thrifty when it comes to your power usage and exercise some preliminary energy-saving measures that can help you manage your budget adequately.
The efficient use of electricity can not only help with your resources, but it can contribute to responsible energy utilization and the preservation of the environment. Many NC power suppliers offer educational programs that can help you avoid having to ask for financial aid. Let’s go through all the options.
Electric and other utility bills in North Carolina—How expensive is the Old North State?
With the average electric bill amounting to $102.53, North Carolina is not among the priciest states. Other bills can be quite high, though, so the Old North State ranks 25th most expensive American state when it comes to utility prices.
While the entire nation is fighting the COVID-19 2020 epidemic, most NC utility suppliers have canceled shut-offs due to the government-imposed moratorium on utility cut-offs and evictions. This is excellent news for many people that lost their jobs or experienced setbacks in their businesses during the pandemic.
The question is, what happens once the situation returns to normal, and the piled up bills have to be paid? Looking at the current situation, it is unlikely that the economy will recover quickly. Many NC residents won’t get back on their feet before the moratorium on shut-offs gets lifted.
In case you have a stack of utility bills that you will have to cover soon, you should start looking into all the options that can take some pressure off your already shaken budget.
Let DoNotPay help you with your electric bill in NC
When bills, fines, and other complicated administrative tasks get overwhelming, the best course of action is to turn to lawyers and financial consultants for help. Unfortunately, most people cannot afford that luxury and often end up paying for unfair fines and other unnecessary costs because they can’t cut through the red tape.
Enter DoNotPay, the world’s first robot lawyer that strives to assist people who don’t have a legal team at hand. The app is free and uses AI to provide a variety of services that are usually too expensive for a person with an average or low income.
Electric bills are a common problem for NC residents, so if you need any assistance with them, here’s what you can do:
- Log on DoNot Pay through your web browser or iOS app
- Select Corona Relief from the menu
- Choose electricity bills
- Have a quick chat with our virtual advisor and explain what you need
- Wait for the robot lawyer to suggest the best plan for you
You don’t have to deal with any issues regarding electric, or any other utility bill alone. DoNotPay is there to help as much as it can every step of the way.
Understanding your electric bill
One of the first things to do is to learn how to read your electric bill. There are many energy providers in North Carolina, so every company issues bills with different terms and line item arrangement. This means that there is no universal explanation on how to read electric bills.
What is the same with every supplier is that only half of the total amount due is your actual power usage. The rest of the sum consists of delivery fees and additional surcharges. Energy companies will use their terminology when it comes to surcharges, but they always represent the costs of maintenance, upgrades, power plant terminations, or financing assistance programs for low-income users.
Although you would think that such costs would come out of the supplier’s pocket, it, unfortunately, comes down to you to cover those expenses. That is why you should not hesitate to ask for help in times of need or try to lower your bill if possible. The bad news is that the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has approved those fees and surcharges, so you cannot get them off your bill.
Always check your NC electric bill for errors
It is not uncommon to have an error on your electric bill even though all providers use digital metering and bill-generating systems. You should check your bill as soon as you receive it. It is easier to dispute it immediately, so make sure you check:
- Account details
- Personal information
- Duplicate items
If the total amount is much higher than usual, or if there are new items that you haven’t seen before, contact your supplier’s customer support and ask for an explanation. Should they fail to provide a satisfactory response, your next stop is the North Carolina Utilities Commission. When you contact them, be sure to state that you are filing a formal complaint since the settlement with the provider failed.
In case that NCUC cannot mediate successfully, they will request a hearing with a Hearing Officer. You won’t need a lawyer, as this is not a court hearing. The Officer will come back with a decision in a couple of weeks. If you are not happy with their decision, you can file an appeal to the NCUC.
Ask for an extension on your NC electric bill with the help of DoNotPay
Not being able to meet the due date on your bill is one of the most common problems. You should be aware that you can quite easily get an extension, so don’t hesitate to ask. Most providers grant this relaxation measure without too much fuss.
Asking for an extension is the easiest way to avoid late fees and unnecessary fines that many providers charge if you fail to pay by the due date. In case you are not sure how to compose a proper extension letter, get DoNotPay to do it for you.
All you need to do is provide the details, so we can create the letter and even send it instead of you. Another useful tip is to consider trying to change the due date permanently and make it coincide with your payday. That way, you can manage your monthly budget better.
Get a waiver on late fees for your NC electric bill with DoNotPay’s assistance
If you fail to meet the deadlines and you are supposed to pay the late fees, the good news is that you can get a waiver. The task is a bit trickier than the extension on the due date, but it is not impossible.
There are a couple of things that you can do:
- Get a professional to do it for you (lawyer or a customer rights advisor)
- Make an in-person appointment with your provider’s customer rep
- Send a formal waiver letter via email
The first two options include time and money, so you should go for the third one because it is no less successful, but way easier. Since most people don’t know how to write a professional waiver letter, DoNotPay can be of assistance. Provide the requested details to our robot lawyer, and you can have a waiver letter in a matter of minutes.
Lower your North Carolina electric bill by negotiation
It is not uncommon for customers to take their bills at face value. This is a mistake as negotiations can lower them significantly if you play your cards right. Although this will usually work only if there is more than one authorized supplier in your area, you can still give it a go even if there is no real competition.
In case you are stuck with one company, you can try to get a discount or a fixed payment plan, which would unburden your budget during the heating or cooling season. Those who are able to switch providers should do some research to get the best negotiating position:
- Check the competitors and what they have to offer
- Come up with a clear plan of what you expect to get
- Be ready to go to another supplier if you don’t get what you want
Most North Carolina regions do have more than one provider, so take advantage of that. Check as many companies as you can and get quotes from them. Compare the offer to your existing plans and see if there is any room for improvement.
Your list of demands has to be realistic, so don’t go overboard with your requests. Try to speak with the Retention Department because they have the authority to negotiate with you. Present the offers that you got from the competitors and see if the company can give you a better deal.
If you are not too demanding, you will probably get a better deal through negotiations. In case you don’t, be ready to accept another offer and start using the services of another supplier. There is no point in bluffing at the negotiating table because customer representatives can usually spot it.
Getting a loan to cover your electric bill in North Carolina
A personal loan is an instant solution to your problem with the electric bill. It is not the best solution, though. Getting indebted with a bank or other lender to cover your utility bills is tricky because personal loans come with interest rates, so you can end up paying much more than you expected.
The issue is that if you are behind on your utility bills, your financial situation is probably not great. This means that your credit score is also questionable, which will make you ineligible for favorable loans with low-interest rates. Try to avoid loans and use it only as a last resort.
Covering your electric bill with a credit card
We would advise against this option because the interest rates are as high as with personal loans. Most people are seduced by 0% introductory rate credit cards, but the point is that they are beneficial only if you are disciplined.
In case you don’t cover your debt during the grace period, you will have to deal with 15–24% interest. Sometimes interest rates will apply to the whole amount and not just the remaining balance, so try to avoid credit cards if possible.
What happens if you fail to pay your electric bill in North Carolina?
During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, there will be no power shut-offs in North Carolina, according to the officials. Although it is a welcome relaxation measure during these critical times, it won’t make those bills simply go away.
If you are too far behind with your payment, the provider may decide to turn off the service. The highly inconvenient situation gets even more complicated with expensive reconnection fees. To avoid further complications, you should always maintain communication with your provider and try to design a solution together.
Your utility company is the most reliable partner in overcoming the difficulties with bills, so make sure you ask your supplier for assistance in case you are facing a disconnection of services. The company will probably offer one of the following:
- A payment plan, which would allow you to cover your debt in affordable monthly installments
- A discount that will enable you to cover most of the bill and start fresh
- Additional tips on how to be more efficient with your energy usage
The best course of action is to communicate with your provider regularly and let them know about any delays or setbacks. It is crucial to show that you are not avoiding your responsibilities and that you are willing to cooperate in finding a satisfactory solution.
Assistance programs that can help with your electric bill in NC
There are several programs available in North Carolina that can help if you cannot keep up with your electric bills, especially during the heating season. Some of the programs are federal, while others are available to customers of specific providers, or through different charities.
If you are having difficulties in covering your electric bill, you can potentially apply for one of the following:
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Crisis Intervention Program
- Operation Round-Up
- Charity programs
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps individuals and households with their utility bills through one-time assistance. It focuses on the issues with heating, so if you are using electricity to heat your home, you may benefit from LIHEAP. You must meet the income restrictions provided in the table below to qualify for this program.
|Household members||Maximum annual income before taxation|
Crisis Intervention Program
This is another state and federal program that assists with heating and cooling bills. You can get up to $600 to help you manage the crisis. The funds can be used to pay the overdue bills or cover the reconnection fees. The good news is that you can apply for this program more than once a year.
Operation Round Up is funded by customers who want to help their fellow North Carolinians struggling to keep up with electric bills. The participants round up their total amounts to the nearest dollar. The resources are used to provide assistance to eligible low-income users and nonprofits who distribute the funds further. The following providers from North Carolina are on board:
EnergyShare is available to Dominion Energy customers. The funds are gathered by client contributions and serve to help those who are struggling to pay the bills during the heating or cooling season. The granted amounts vary depending on the financial circumstances of the applicants.
Charity organizations throughout North Carolina provide assistance to low-income residents and people in crisis. You can check CatholicCharitiesUSA.org to see if you qualify for some of their programs. The nonprofit helps people in need regardless of their religion. The Salvation Army runs the Crisis Assistance Program, which can help the poverty-stricken NC residents with utilities.
What else can DoNotPay do to help?
Even if it’s not something as essential as your electric bill, you can have a hard time coping with a number of issues that might leave you broke. DoNotPay can help you save time and money by assisting with fines, tickets, pricey subscriptions, and many other tasks. We are ready to:
- Cancel any subscription service or membership
- Jump the phone queue when getting in touch with customer service reps
- Contest parking tickets
- Help with other bills
- Get an appointment with the DMV faster
- Fight speeding tickets
- Help you sue people and companies in small claims court
- Make virtual credit cards to avoid being charged after your free trial
- Get compensation for delayed and canceled flights
- Dispute traffic tickets
- Get revenge on robocalls