Philly’s coronavirus response

PECO adds ‘thank you’ to Crown Lights, says customers don’t have to worry about shutoffs through July

Look up to see a new message of gratitude beamed far and wide.

Courtesy PECO

PECO announced on Friday that its moratorium on shutoffs and offer of free reconnections would be extended through at least July 1. It also added a special “thank you” to essential workers to its Crown Lights rotation.

The high-visibility display encircling the energy provider’s headquarters at 2301 Market St. has been beaming its messages for more than four decades now, in LED color since 2009.

Usually stocked with a variety of PSAs from local community and nonprofit orgs, it has also been deployed for a variety of creative uses. Two years ago, it lit up with an animated version of the “double doink” missed field goal that contributed to the Eagles 2018 Super Bowl win. (It purposely did not show a good luck message during the playoffs that year, for fear of a jinx.)

One of six COVID-related messages on display right now, the thank you is meant to show support for first responders, healthcare professionals and other essential workers — including PECO workers themselves.

No furloughs or layoffs have been enacted across the company’s 2,700 employees, according to communicatiosn VP Mayra Bergman, who said shift schedules have been modified to allow for better social distancing. Call center staff and others who can are being allowed to work remotely, she said.

That work is critical for the 1.6 million people in the region who depend on the company for electricity, including customers who can’t always pay in full.

PECO was one of the first Philadelphia utilities that changed its payment policies when the pandemic hit the region. Starting on March 13, shutoffs for nonpayment were suspended, and new late fees were waived. The company also started proactively reconnecting homes where service had been cut off due to nonpayment, something PGW has not done for its gas customers, per the Inquirer.

It’s more of a deferment than forgiveness: people will still be responsible for unpaid electricity balances, eventually. With the latest extension, those bills won’t come due until the start of July.

If you want to help those who’ll eventually face a big backlog, there’s an easy way.

Visit this page on PECO’s website to give the “Gift of Energy” by sending a check or calling with a credit card to pay it forward for a friend, loved one, or other Philadelphian in need. If you do, that “thank you” message on the headquarters goes out to you, too.

Want some more? Explore other Philly’s coronavirus response stories.

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Energy, PECO