Food or power: Energy bill late fees force tough choices

Energy Costs Winter Outlook
Posted at 7:50 AM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 07:55:38-04

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Americans paid a combined $561 million in late payment fees to electrical utilities in 2019, but how much you pay depends on where you live.

An AP analysis of federal regulatory data found that several major utility companies in southeast states, including Kentucky, are charging late fees that are much higher than the national average.

Other states include Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and Maryland.

Late fees typically punish customers who are least able to afford their utility bill to begin with.

The fees account for a small part of major energy companies’ overall revenue, but for the people who must pay them, the late fees can be crushing.