TUPELO • With the COVID-19 virus continuing the spread throughout the country and the state, the All-America city’s utility company is temporarily suspending all utility disconnections related to nonpayment issues.
Johnny Timmons, the director of Tupelo Water and Light, told the Daily Journal in a telephone interview that the municipal-owned company is suspending disconnections for customers until further notice.
“We are also asking customers to refrain from coming to the office for payment, and we’re wanting them to use our drive-thru window,” Timmons said. “Customers can make payments by mail, online or through a toll free number.”
Tupelo Water and Light customers can pay through the city’s website at tupeloms.gov and call the toll free number listed on utility bills. Additionally, Timmons said customers can call 841-6470 for assistance with payment during this time, and the phone line will be monitored by a Water and Light employee.
Water and Light customers are still encouraged to pay their utility bills if they are able, and they will still be responsible for their utility usage. But their utilities will not be disconnected during this time if they are unable to pay.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission also voted in an emergency meeting on Sunday to temporarily suspend all utility companies from disconnecting utility services. Municipal-owned companies, such as Tupelo Water and Light, are not within the PSC’s jurisdiction. However, the commission requested all municipal-owned utility companies suspend disconnections.
The restriction by the PSC went into effect Sunday, will be in place until approximately the middle of May. The order will apply to all water, sewer, electricity and gas services.
Presley also said customers will still owe for their usage and are encouraged to continue paying during this period, Presley previously told the Daily Journal.
“We encourage customers to continue to pay their bill as normal, but this prohibits shutoffs for anyone who does not have the ability to pay during this time,” Presley previously said. “We do not take this type of action lightly, but we are taking it at the recommendation of the Health Department and (the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency).”
Government officials and utility directors both said they are continuing to monitor the spread of the virus and will reassess utility suspensions at a later date.