Manager’s Report — August 2020
Neighbors Helping Neighbors—Especially Now
As our community continues to live through the various hardships associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to reassure our customer-owners that Northern Wasco County PUD is here to help where we can, when we can, and for as long as we are able.
We suspended disconnects for non-payment in March, deferred late-fee assessments, credited deposits to accounts when possible, and set aside financial resources for small business assistance to eligible organizations.
Those efforts—coupled with postponement of a 3.8% rate increase— have kept more than $700,000 in your collective bank accounts, available for your other uses.
We know there are many who still need support. We will continue to work with customers facing financial struggles with the understanding that they work with us and communicate. We will reach out soon to set up payment arrangements with customers in arrears. It is imperative accounts become current before cold weather use increases and bills become insurmountable.
Federal and state dollars are available for utility assistance through the Mid-Columbia Community Action Council’s Community Action Partnership. Customers must reach out to them for assistance. Programs have been modified to help more people qualify.
Even though our rates are the lowest in the region—and some of the lowest in the state and nation—that doesn’t mean people still don’t occasionally need help with their energy bills. We understand fully that the cost per unit of measurement (kilowatt-hours) is only one aspect. The amount of energy use via energy consumption is what can make an energy bill larger from one season to the next. That is why we work hard to provide opportunities for energy conservation. Soon, we will offer options such as prepay to help our customer-owners in need.
Another way we offer help is through our Neighbor to Neighbor program, which gives a helping hand to customers struggling to pay their electric bills. You can sign up to have a small monthly contribution of $1, $2, or $5 automatically added to your bill each month, or you can make your contribution on a separate check made payable to “Neighbor to Neighbor.”
Reaching your PUD has been challenging for some of you, as crews and staff stay safe and distanced while working remotely. We have added some technological solutions to make this easier going forward. Safety, integrity, customer service, respect, operational excellence, and sustainability are still our core values. Even from 6 feet away.