A company-wide restructuring effort at Gulf Power could mean layoffs for some local employees, company spokesperson Rick DelaHaya confirmed Wednesday.
“As many companies do, Gulf Power evaluates its business model on a continual basis, thinking forward into the future to improve service to customers and reduce expenses,” DelaHaya said. “The way our customers use energy is changing, and we must always be looking for ways to improve and adapt to current trends and changing customer expectations.”
It’s not clear how many employees could be affected in the Pensacola area. The Panama City News Herald reported that nine Gulf Power employees will be laid off in Panama City.
“It is anticipated that the overall number of impacted employees will be fairly low and some employees are expected to transition out of the company,” DelaHaya said. “We are working very hard to minimize the impact to our team members in all locations. Nonetheless, it’s never easy making these tough decisions. ”
As part of the restructuring, the company also plans to discontinue accepting in-person bill payments at Gulf Power offices as of Friday, December 29. DelaHaya said only about 10 percent of payments come through the offices, with the vast majority of customers choosing to pay their bills online, by phone, by mail, or at the company’s network of authorized payment locations.
“To make it more convenient for our customers who like to pay their bill in cash, rather than making a special trip to one of our payment offices, we now have more than 200 authorized payment locations that are powered by Western Union and CheckFreePay at places they are more likely to frequent during their routine errands, such as grocery shopping or picking up a prescription,” DelaHaya said. “These locations include stores like Walmart, Walgreens, Publix, Winn Dixie, and Kmart, and banks like Region Bank and Coastal Bank & Trust.”
Gulf Power provides electricity to more than 455,000 customers across an eight-county area in northwest Florida and employs more than 1,300 people, according to the company.