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SMUD to resume late fees, power shutoffs impacting thousands of customers

The utility company will end the pandemic-induced break from late fees and power shutoffs starting in late February.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento Municipal Utilities District (SMUD) plans to reintroduce late fees and power shutoffs for customers with unpaid bills from the utility starting in late February. Late fees will begin showing up on bills in March.

This means that thousands of customers across Sacramento could lose their electricity if they don't pay their bills.

"If customers do not call us to work out a payment plan, we could see disconnections in mid-April," said Lindsay Vanlaningham, a spokesperson for SMUD. "The worst-case scenario is disconnection and we want to avoid that for us and our customers."

The utility put a hold on charging late fees to accounts and shutting off power due to unpaid bills in March of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic's devastating impact on the economy.

"We've been here to help throughout the entire pandemic," Vanlaningham said. "We just want customers to contact us, we will work with them on a payment plan."

According to Vanlaningham, 204,000 customers are behind on SMUD bills. Out of those, Vanlaningham says 137,000 customers are 30 days or more past due meaning their power could be shut off in April if no payment plan is worked out with SMUD. 

For customers behind on SMUD bills, the utility recommends checking their
"Here to Help" web page for more information on payment plans and resources. 

"We have lots of different programs, options, program rates. We've partnered with many different community organizations to help provide some relief so we just ask our customers to call us." Vanlaningham said.

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