Duke Energy Foundation Donates $150,000 to Agencies in South Carolina Helping Pay Energy Bills during COVID-19 Crisis

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

The Duke Energy Foundation has announced a $150,000 donation to support low-income customers in the Palmetto State who are struggling to pay their utility bills during the COVID-19 crisis.

This additional funding will significantly increase the assistance available through the Energy Neighbor Fund and Share the Warmth programs to provide help to about 550 households with their utility bills. Funds can assist with heating or cooling costs.

"The pandemic has put a financial strain on many utility customers across the state," said Mike Callahan, Duke Energy's South Carolina president. "We are determined to help our neighbors in South Carolina through these challenging times."

The Energy Neighbor Fund (Duke Energy Progress) and Share the Warmth (Duke Energy Carolinas) programs are long-standing initiatives of the company and provide heating and cooling bill assistance to utility customers during the year through various social service agencies and nonprofit organizations. The $150,000 donation will be evenly split between the two programs.

"Duke Energy has been a valuable AIM partner for 30 years, helping us provide energy assistance to thousands of under-resourced households," said Kristy King-Brock, AIM executive director. "Again, Duke Energy has stepped up to help us provide a helping hand to the most vulnerable in our community. We are very thankful for their commitment to helping organizations like AIM during these very challenging times."

In addition to the Duke Energy programs, federal initiatives like the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) also provide home energy assistance to help eligible low-income households meet their home heating and/or cooling needs. These federal funds recently received hundreds of millions of dollars as part of the federal stimulus initiative.  

"Record unemployment is sure to last through what is predicted to be a very warm summer," said Madeleine McGee, president of Together SC, an alliance that brings nonprofit organizations and their staffs together to help strengthen the state's nonprofit community. "These additional funds will enable nonprofits working on the frontline to keep families in their homes and provide the safety net we all want to know is there for us." 

The Duke Energy Foundation announced an initial $1.3 million in support of COVID-19 relief across the company's jurisdictions, including $250,000 to support hunger relief and help local health and human services nonprofits in South Carolina. With this additional investment in bill assistance, the Duke Energy Foundation has invested more than $400,000 in direct COVID-19 relief in South Carolina. The Foundation has also provided flexibility for grantees to apply program-specific grants to their emerging COVID-19 needs.

In addition to support from the Duke Energy Foundation, the company has already announced several steps it's taking to relieve the financial burden of COVID-19 on all customers, including suspending disconnections due to nonpayment, waiving late-payment charges and waiving returned payment/check fees, among others.