By Cassie McClure
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 8/29/21
Las Cruces Utilities Wants to Assist Customers before Disconnections for Nonpayment Resumes on September 1, 2021
If you have a past due account at Las Cruces Utilities (LCU), now is the time to come in and have a conversation with an LCU Receivable representative to see how you can make sure that your account is not disconnected. Both residential and business accounts will be subject to disconnection on September 1, 2021.
“We understand it can be hard to discuss a financial situation,” said LCU Billing & Receivables Supervisor Steven Valdez. “But we have plenty of options to make sure you don’t lose service and can pay in a way that is best for you.”
He explained that all staff is sensitive to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our representatives have gone through this pandemic with our customers as neighbors; we know that times are tough. We want to enable a smooth transition out of account delinquency where a trip to the mailbox is not one more headache.”
The location at City Hall may be the first trip to make and see what options are available. Plenty of other residents have been helped – 2,343 residential customers have been assisted by the LCU Assistance fund, which provided over $460,000 in aid. Since April 2020, LCU has suspended all disconnections due to non-payment, prioritizing the health and safety of customers.
“From the LCU Board of Commissioners to City Council, everyone at all levels understands that last year was not a normal year, and there will be challenges in the coming months,” said LCU Deputy Director Business Service Jose Provencio. “It’s going to be a process to get accounts paid and want to apply all available resources and assistance before services are shut off for nonpayment.”
A conversation between a customer and LCU staff is easy and doesn’t take long. If you prefer to talk in person, head to either the Customer Central City Hall at 700 N. Main Street, open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or the Customer Central East Mesa location at 5195 Bataan Memorial West, open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Customers can also discuss their situations on the phone by calling Customer Central at 575-541-2111 or by emailing Receivables@las-cruces.org.
The assistance programs range from payment plan agreements to a promise to pay extension on the billing due date, depending on a customer’s financial situation. Assistance could also come from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) program funded by New Mexico Health & Human Services Department, Casa de Peregrinos, and Doña Ana County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Currently, the ERAP will also end on September 30, 2021, but can help with past-due utilities payments for renters.
LCU Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: If you are having problems paying your past-due utilities account, step into one of the two Customer Central locations to speak to a receivables representative and find a plan for you. Delinquent accounts are subject to disconnection on September 1, 2021.