SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – SWEPCO is offering new payment options to help with high bills that are open to all customers.

It includes waiving late fees, some deposits, and payment arrangements for up to a year.

“So we’re giving them a little bit more time to pay their bill in full, and we will work with customers on what’s right for them to keep their electric on,” said SWEPCO spokesperson Tara Muck.

SWEPCO uses 39% natural gas, 21% wind, and 40% coal to generate fuel. They say they are paying more for natural gas, which passes directly to its customers without profit. At the same time, customers have to use more electricity to keep their homes cool enough in the extreme heat. Both lead to higher bills.

“We’re still in the middle of August and will see those higher temperatures cause an increase in usage. We’ll still battling higher fuel costs than we were last year, so we want to provide some relief,” said Muck.

SWEPCO said if you need help paying your bill, call them. The new options include waiving late fees and waiving electricity deposits if you’re moving into a new home. They are also offering payment arrangements from three months to a year.

“We do not want to do disconnects. Whether you are 30 days or 60 days behind, give us a call.”

SWEPCO operates in three different states under three public service commissions. Louisiana law prevents shutoffs during extreme heat. Arkansas does not have that law, while Texas has another procedure. Muck said they follow each state’s laws but work with each customer individually.

“We tend to look at each situation in a unique way. So sometimes, when we know, we’re facing in Louisiana with disconnects not happening because of heat advisories. We also tend to look at that in the same way in Arkansas. What we really look at in Arkansas is avoid disconnects to the elderly and others with disabilities.”

If you have an elderly loved one you’d like to help with, there is also a new program called the Lighting Utility Voucher. It allows family members or anyone to make a payment on someone’s behalf.

Customers have until Oct 31 to take advantage of these new payment options. As a result, officials say callers should prepare for longer wait times over the phone.