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Help available for high bills

With the second winter storm of the season passing through, electric bills have been much higher than expected, and electric companies are doing their part to help customers afford their bills.

Dominion Energy set a record on Jan. 6, during Winter Storm Grayson, for the highest demand in a 24-hour period. The following day became the second highest on record.

While customers are experiencing higher bills, they can contact Dominion customer service at 866-DOM-HELP or access their accounts online for payment extensions, long-term payment plans and bill payment assistance.

“With pay assistance, we always try and work with our customers to provide payment plans,” said Bonita Billingsley Harris, Dominion spokeswoman. “We are expecting some customers to see bills a lot higher than they used to, and we encourage them to call as soon as they can so things aren’t piling up. Customer call agents will do what they can.”

Dominion also has a program called EnergyShare. This program is an assistance program for those facing financial hardships due to unemployment or family crisis. Dominion and its employees regularly contribute to the fund, and customers can also contribute by adding money to their bill.

“The EnergyShare program is a last case for someone that has accessed every source they can. It is not based on your salary,” Harris said.

Community Electric Cooperative, which serves about 3,400 Suffolk residents, also offers relief for those that are experiencing higher electric bills.

“We do offer to work with them for payment arrangements year-round,” said Brenda Mansfield, manager of member services. “I imagine that after our temperatures from last weekend, we will see an increase in those. We’ve had people call that haven’t seen their bills and are asking what they might be.”