LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Summit Utilities has announced it would continue its suspension of service disconnects and late fee charges into the spring.
The company had first announced on Nov. 1, 2022, that it would suspend disconnects and late fees. Summit CEO Kurt Adams said in a March 3 email that the company would continue its disconnect and fees suspension “through the winter,” which ends March 20.
In a Wednesday email, Summit Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs Lizzy Reinhold said the disconnect and late fee suspension would continue into the spring.
“We do not plan to resume normal collections activities, which means issuing late fees and beginning the disconnection process, on March 20,” she said. “We will give customers ample notice before reinstating disconnections and late fees.”
All Summit customers can expect at least a 30-day advance notice using various communication platforms before disconnects and late fees are restored, Reinhold said, adding that notices to impacted customers will be per Public Service Commission rules.
No date was given for when the suspensions would end.
Summit took over as a gas utility on Nov. 1, 2022, after taking over from CenterPoint Energy, the result of a 2021 deal. Customers have complained about high prices and billing errors after the take-over, leading to Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin investigating consumer complaints shortly after taking office in January.
Adams said in the March 3 email that a combination of factors led to the high prices and billing errors. He said that natural gas prices had risen, and billing errors had been resolved.
The March 3 email came out a day after a class-action lawsuit had been filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, charging the company with price gouging and failure to provide service. Summit attorneys moved that lawsuit to the Eastern District of Arkansas federal court on Monday.
The move to federal court put a hold on a restraining order against Summit due to go into effect Monday. The order would have continued the disconnect and fee suspension and allowed Summit customers not to pay their bills.