The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission voted to end the COVID moratorium on shutting off electricity for past-due PNM residential customers starting as soon as Thursday, Aug. 12.

More than 47,000 customers are behind on their PNM bill and could be facing disconnection soon. PNM is pleading with customers to contact them immediately, asking them not to leave millions of dollars in financial assistance on the table reserved to help people get caught back up again and avoid a shutoff situation.

PNM is seeing $21.4 million in past-due customer electric bills while customers continue to be provided with power, despite non-payment, because the temporary emergency COVID moratorium had been in place since the start of the pandemic.

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However, customers are still responsible for paying for the energy they have used.

For help paying a past-due PNM bill, apply online at PNM.com/help or call PNM at 855-364-2950, from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Just answer a few questions and PNM will do the rest.

PNM will review your qualifications with the following assistance programs to help pay down, or possibly pay off, your past-due PNM bill. In some cases, programs can be combined to maximize the amount of assistance you receive.

  • The PNM COVID Customer Relief Fund provides a one-time credit between $50-$200 for qualifying residential customers.
  • The PNM Good Neighbor Fund is an emergency assistance fund for PNM customers facing an unexpected financial hardship due to an emergency situation. It may be able to help cover part or all of a past-due PNM bill with as much as a $170 credit per income eligible residential customer. LIHEAP approval required.
  • The New Mexico Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program may be able to help low income families with as much as $550 to pay your electric bill. Final dollar amount varies.
  • The Emergency Rental Assistance Program is available to New Mexico renters who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The state of New Mexico is helping renters pay their rent, electric bills, gas bills, water and sewer, trash removal and other expenses related to housing costs such as hotel/motel costs.

Currently, there are more than 47,000 PNM customers with an average past-due balance of $448 each. With the NMPRC voting to end the temporary emergency COVID moratorium, past-due customers could be facing disconnection as soon as Thursday, Aug. 12.

There are only three ways to avoid disconnection — immediately pay your past-due balance in full, contact PNM to obtain financial assistance to help pay down or possibly pay off your past-due balance or contact PNM to get on a payment plan to pay over multiple months so you do not have to worry about bringing your account current with just one payment.

“PNM is laser focused on making sure we help customers receive every single dollar of available financial assistance, including helping them to secure money from other agency programs too,” said Maddie Martinez Vega, PNM low income programs manager. “If you have never applied for help paying your PNM bill, we know it can be a difficult thing to do, but it is time-sensitive that you apply immediately so we can help you from a worsening situation.”

Several thousand customers have recently made payment arrangements with PNM to get caught back up on their bills which will help them avoid disconnection, but it is critical that millions of dollars of financial assistance is not left on the table for New Mexicans who need help paying their utility bill.

“Disconnecting customers due to non-payment is not something PNM wants to do,” said Eric Morgan, PNM collection manager. “As soon as August 12, we are looking at possibly disconnecting 500-600 customers statewide per business day, which is why it’s crucial customers contact us immediately.”

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The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.