Utility Responses to COVID-19

  • Post category:Updates

Thank you to all of our NWPPA members who have shared their policies and practices concerning Coronavirus. The following is a clearinghouse of the news releases we have received. We are sharing these here for your information and as a resource for anyone looking to also implement a similar practice. Please send any releases or office updates to brenda@nwppa.org so we can continue to disseminate this information to our valued membership.

Utility responses by state

Alaska

GVEA Lobby Update

(August 11) Golden Valley Electric Association (Fairbanks, Alaska) lobbies are open, with protocols in place to keep members and employees safe. Visitors and employees are required to wear a face covering when entering GVEA premises and the number of members allowed in lobbies at one time is limited. When inside, GVEA is asking members to maintain a distance of six feet from others and to use hand sanitizer.

Go to http://blog.gvea.com to see a detailed listing of hours of operation for various sections of GVEA.

GVEA and COVID-19 Financial Hardship Update

(August 11) Effective March 19, Golden Valley Electric Association (Fairbanks, Alaska) temporarily suspended residential disconnects due to non-payment, as well as accrual of late payment fees. These suspensions are a result of the COVID-19 situation and will remain in effect until Alaska’s public health disaster ends.

To assist those residential members who are experiencing a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 situation, steps are in place to help manage unpaid electric bills. To begin with, two forms must be submitted to GVEA before the disaster ends: COVID-19 Moratorium Certification and COVID-19 Deferred Payment Agreement.

GVEA continues to add to the informational webpage that was developed to provide a compilation of documents and websites that our members may find helpful. Visit www.gvea.com/resources/covid-19 to learn more.

Chugach Electric to Reopen Lobby with Limited Entry

(April 30) Consistent with state and local guidance, Chugach Electric Association (Anchorage, Alaska) is reopening its lobby with limited entry beginning today, May 4, at 8 a.m. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and as a precautionary measure for the safety of all, Chugach closed its lobby to the public on March 17. As both the State of Alaska and the Municipality of Anchorage are now releasing guidelines and safety criteria to allow businesses to reopen or expand operations, Chugach will reopen 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays with new procedures in place.

Preparing for the reopening, Chugach has taken several steps to help ensure the health and safety of employees and members, while working to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Continued.

California

AMP Offers a COVID-19 Payment Plan

(February 11) Alameda Municipal Power’s COVID-19 Payment Plan enables business customers to pay off a past-due balance while keeping their utility account in good standing.

The past-due amount is spread out over a specified period of time—this amount is called a monthly installment. Customers are required to pay the agreed-upon monthly installment, in addition to paying their current utility charges in full, by the bill due-date each month. Paying both the monthly installment and current utility charges gives you extra time to bring your electric account up to date.

To set up a payment plan, please call AMP’s customer service team at (510) 748-3900.

SMUD to Light up Buildings in Amber to Honor Those Lost to COVID-19

(January 19) SMUD (Sacramento, Calif.) joins the nation to honor lives lost to COVID-19. Beginning today, through Friday, January 22, the iconic SMUD Headquarters building, the Customer Service Center on S Street, and the East Campus Operations Center on Bradshaw Avenue will be lit in amber lighting in honor of COVID-19 victims.

“As an essential service provider, keeping our employees safe and the lights on are our top priorities,” said SMUD Board President Nancy Bui-Thompson. “While COVID-19 hasn’t negatively impacted SMUD’s operations, its workforce isn’t immune from the pandemic that has touched all segments of our community.”

Continued here.

SMUD Extends Suspension of Power Shutoffs for Non-Payment Through April 30, 2021

(December 17) In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and growing economic challenges, SMUD (Sacramento, Calif.) announced it will extend the suspension of disconnecting power due to non-payment for residential and commercial customers through April 30, 2021, at the earliest.

“We remain committed to the well-being of our community through these unprecedented times,” said SMUD CEO and General Manager Paul Lau. “The economic impact of the pandemic on our community is great and we’ll continue to ensure that our customers, especially the most vulnerable, have access to safe and reliable power during these times.”

The suspension of power disconnection due to non-payment began March 13 and will last through April 30, 2021, at the earliest, as SMUD continues to monitor the evolving situation.

Continued here.

Keeping the Lights on Safely During Covid-19

(December 10) The health and safety of Silicon Valley Power’s (Santa Clara, Calif.) customers and employees are one of our top priorities, which is why we have taken preventive measures to keep our employees healthy while delivering safe and reliable power to our community.

While our work is essential to keeping the power on for our customers, we also recognize that there is a balance between providing service and keeping our employees safe. To accomplish that balance, we’ve provided our employees with new policies and procedures so they remain safe while delivering on our commitment to service.

We’re asking our employees in customer-facing roles or those that require a presence on-site to take appropriate preventive measures. This includes stocking up on hand sanitizer, disinfecting spray and wipes, and providing masks to all employees. We’ve increased cleaning and sanitizing of all work locations with an added focus on locations in high traffic areas. To mitigate the exposure of COVID-19 to all employees and the public, employees must complete a self-screening prior to entering the workplace.

Continued here.

SMUD Awards $200,000 in First Round of Community Funding

(November 16) SMUD announced its annual Shine community award recipients totaling $199,894. SMUD’s Shine program supports projects that improve and revitalize neighborhoods in the Sacramento, Calif., region. Shine awards are funded for projects that address neighborhood revitalization; STEM education; environment and energy efficiency; and workforce development. Round one of the Shine awards is focused on getting immediate help to communities that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Round two will be announced in January.

“We’re proud to partner with local nonprofits on projects that will immediately address COVID-19 impacts in underserved communities,” said CEO and General Manager Paul Lau. “I’m looking forward to round two so we can help even more people during this unprecedented time. By supporting our community with job training, academic support and community services, we will make a lasting impact in our neighborhoods.”

Continued here.

Take Advantage of AMP’s COVID-19 Payment Plan

(September 10) AMP’s COVID-19 Payment Plan enables business customers to pay off a past-due balance while keeping their utility account in good standing.

The past-due amount is spread out over a specified period of time—this amount is called a monthly installment. Customers are required to pay the agreed-upon monthly installment, in addition to paying their current utility charges in full, by the bill due-date each month. Paying both the monthly installment and current utility charges gives you extra time to bring your electric account up to date.

Continued here.

SMUD Partners for Giving Monday School Supply Drive

(August 31) Thousands of kids can start distance learning off right thanks to a partnership with SMUD, Cal Expo, and Sacramento Republic FC that collected much needed school supplies for the Sacramento Children’s Home and surrounding communities.

Although the State Fair was canceled this year due to COVID-19, children are still in need of school supplies while they learn at home. Traditionally, these supplies are provided in the classroom, but given the pandemic, there was a real need to ensure that all kids had the same learning opportunities.

“This partnership is a great way to give back to those in our community who need it most,” said Rhonda Staley-Brooks, SMUD’s community development manager. “And this year, the need is even greater. We want kids to start school off right and that starts with having the tools needed to succeed. It’s these types of community efforts that help lift up our entire community and we’re glad to be a part of it.”

Continued here.

Helping Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 through Energy Efficiency Grants

(August 14) We [Silicon Valley Power] understand our customers have been impacted by COVID-19 in various ways and we are doing what we can to help. In an effort to reduce electric bills for small businesses in Santa Clara, we are offering grants to provide funding for energy efficiency upgrades. These upgrades will help lower business operating costs by reducing electric consumption and may also have other non-energy benefits, such as reduced maintenance costs, better quality lighting, and better equipment performance.

Our energy engineers are available to help businesses identify qualifying measures that will have the most impact on reducing their electric bills. We’ve also provided program training to our Trade Ally contractors so they can work with customers to implement projects. Energy efficiency projects that save electric energy may be eligible. Typical projects include lighting, HVAC, HVAC controls, and food service equipment upgrades. Up to $10,000 is available for eligible businesses, with 100% funding for businesses that have been deemed as non-essential under the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department order dated March 16, 2020. For businesses that have been deemed essential, 10% of the project cost must be paid for by the business.

Continued here.

SMUD Announces Microloan Program for Local Nonprofits and Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

(July 17) In response to the devastating impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on local small businesses and nonprofits, SMUD announced that it has created a COVID-19 Relief: Nonprofit Microloan Program for those who serve Sacramento’s most vulnerable communities and who may not have qualified for the federal, state, and local loan offerings.

“The pandemic has the potential to paralyze many of our underserved communities, and by supporting these essential, local nonprofits who focus directly on community services, we can fill the funding gaps and have a greater impact on our community,” said Jose Bodipo-Memba, SMUD director of Sustainable Communities.

Continued here.

Announcing Energy Efficiency Grant for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

(July 7) To help Santa Clara small businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19, Silicon Valley Power is offering grants to help fund energy efficiency upgrades. These upgrades will help lower business operating costs by reducing electric consumption. Energy efficiency projects may also have other non-energy benefits, such as reduced maintenance costs.

Energy efficiency projects that save electric energy may be eligible. Typical projects include lighting, HVAC, HVAC controls, and food service equipment upgrades. Up to $10,000 is available for eligible businesses. Projects will be funded at 100% for businesses that have been deemed as non-essential under the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department order dated March 16, 2020. For a business that has been deemed essential, 10% of the project cost must be paid for by the business.

Continued here.

Rancho Seco Recreational Area Temporarily Closed to Day Visitors Due to COVID-19

(July 3) Out of an abundance of caution, SMUD is temporarily closing the Rancho Seco Recreational Area to day visitors effective immediately after park operator employees learned that a visitor subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. SMUD anticipates re-opening the park to day visitors on July 6.

Through extensive contact tracing, it was confirmed that no other park guests were exposed to the COVID-positive visitor.

Continued here.

COVID-19 Micro-Enterprise Relief Grants

(July 1) The Cities of Redding, Shasta Lake, and Anderson, in partnership with the Redding Chamber of Commerce, are excited to announce a special COVID-19 Relief Grant Program for Micro-Enterprise Businesses. The program is designed to provide $5,000 in grant funding to about 140 of the smallest brick and mortar businesses in the greater community – those that were likely hit the hardest during the pandemic. To qualify for the grant program, a business must have five or fewer employees, including the business owner, and must be a for-profit business that operates within Redding, Shasta Lake, or Anderson.

The program, funded by Community Development Block Grant Funds from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will disperse more than $750,000 in combined funding to businesses in the community. This money will help to ensure that some of the smallest local businesses will survive the COVID-19 pandemic. $682,000 will be contributed for Redding businesses, $62,000 will be contributed for Shasta Lake businesses, and funding amounts for Anderson are yet to be determined.

Continued here.

SMUD Limiting Rancho Seco Recreational Area During Independence Day Holiday

(June 29) SMUD is limiting access to Rancho Seco Recreational Area this Fourth of July holiday weekend to comply with capacity and social distancing restrictions mandated by state government due to COVID-19.

SMUD is restricting access to only 100 day-use vehicles and anticipates quickly reaching capacity and then closing the park, probably around 9 a.m. on July 3, 4, and 5. Folks who make the trip may be disappointed to learn that the park is full and closed when they arrive.

Continued here.

SMUD Extends Suspension of Power Shutoffs for Non-Payment Through January 4, 2021

(May 28) In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and growing economic challenges, SMUD (Sacramento, Calif.) announced it will extend the suspension of disconnecting power due to non-payment for residential and commercial customers until January 4, 2021.

“Our commitment to the community remains strong through tough financial times,” said Arlen Orchard, CEO and general manager of SMUD. “Because of the impact that this pandemic is having on our community, we want to ensure that our most vulnerable customers have access to power during these times.”

Continued here.

AMP Board Decides Not to Increase Electric Rates

(April 28) At its meeting on April 27, the city of Alameda’s Public Utilities Board unanimously decided not to increase electric rates for all AMP customers. The board voted to maintain the existing rates for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning July 1, 2020.

Due to the utility’s strong financial outlook, the board decided not to raise electric rates during a time when AMP customers are experiencing the economic impacts of COVID-19. AMP had earlier expected to propose a rate increase of up to 2% due to increases in purchased power costs and increased transmission costs, and other operating expenses such as labor and strategic plan initiatives.

Continued here.

LMUD Announces Emergency Energy Assistance for Customers Affected by COVID-19

(April 7) In order to alleviate some of the financial burden caused by the current pandemic, LMUD has allocated funds to help customers who have suffered a decrease in wages due to circumstances caused by COVID-19 response.

The program offers financial assistance to households whose income has been decreased by at least 30% on or after March 25, 2020 due to lay-offs, reduction in working hours and business closures. Once qualified, funds will be applied directly to the customers electric bill.

Continued here.

SMUD Extends Suspension of Power Shutoffs for Non-Payment Through May 30

(April 2) In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and growing economic challenges, SMUD (Sacramento, Calif.) announced it will extend the suspension of disconnecting power due to non-payment for residential and commercial customers until May 30.

“We made this decision due to the impact that COVID-19 is having on our local communities,” said Arlen Orchard, CEO and general manager of SMUD. “We want to ensure that our most vulnerable customers have access to power during these times.”

The suspension of power disconnection due to non-payment began March 13 and will last through May 30, as SMUD continues to monitor the evolving situation.

Continued here.

SMUD Extends Suspension of Power Shutoffs for Non-Payment

(March 27) In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and growing economic challenges, SMUD announced it will extend the suspension of disconnecting power due to non-payment for residential and commercial customers until April 17.

“We made this decision due to the impact that COVID-19 is having on our local communities,” said Arlen Orchard, CEO and general manager of SMUD. “We want to ensure that our most vulnerable customers have access to power during these times.”

Continued here.

Placer County Water Agency Continues to Supply Safe, Clean Drinking Water During COVID-19 Emergency

(March 19) Placer County Water Agency (Auburn, Calif.) released the following statement today regarding Agency operations in response to Placer County guidance on COVID-19:

“Following the ‘shelter in place’ directive issued today by Placer County, PCWA is transitioning to modified operations for employees and customers. Deliveries of drinking water will not be impacted by these modified operations and continue to meet all state and federal drinking water standards. Canal water deliveries will also not be affected.”

Continued here.

SMUD Closing All Buildings to the Public in Response to Pandemic While Continuing to Provide Electric Service

(March 18) In response to the escalating concerns about public safety and the COVID-19 pandemic, SMUD (Sacramento, Calif.) is closing all buildings to the public and will handle all customer business online at SMUD.org and via phone channels. Most importantly though, while SMUD buildings will be closed to the public, all SMUD outage response levels remain unchanged and all functions necessary to run the power system will operate as normal.

The building closures are effective immediately through at least April 17 and include SMUD’s Customer Service Center and lobby at 6301 S Street, Headquarters building, and East Campus-Operations Center.

Continued here.

PCWA Closes Business Center Lobbies until Further Notice

(March 16) In an effort to reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19, Placer County Water Agency (Auburn, Calif.) announced today that it is closing its business center lobbies until further notice. PCWA staff remains available to assist customers via telephone or electronic mail (e-mail).

Continued here.

SMUD Postponing All Large Non-Essential Meetings and Limiting Staff Presence at Events Due to Coronavirus Concerns

(March 11) To minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for SMUD employees and the public, effective immediately, SMUD (Sacramento, Calif.) has postponed all non-essential meetings with more than 50 participants and limited employee participation at external events to essential staff only. The restrictions will be in place until at least April 8 due to coronavirus concerns.

SMUD has been monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) issue closely and, in line with other large companies, has taken steps to minimize the risk of exposure for our employees and for the public. The situation is evolving quickly and SMUD continues to monitor developments and advice from public health officials to put in place measures to minimize risks to our employees, the public and our operations. This latest measure follows restriction of non-critical employee travel that SMUD implemented February 28.

Helping Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 through Energy Efficiency Grants

(August 14) We [Silicon Valley Power] understand our customers have been impacted by COVID-19 in various ways and we are doing what we can to help. In an effort to reduce electric bills for small businesses in Santa Clara, we are offering grants to provide funding for energy efficiency upgrades. These upgrades will help lower business operating costs by reducing electric consumption and may also have other non-energy benefits, such as reduced maintenance costs, better quality lighting, and better equipment performance.

Our energy engineers are available to help businesses identify qualifying measures that will have the most impact on reducing their electric bills. We’ve also provided program training to our Trade Ally contractors so they can work with customers to implement projects. Energy efficiency projects that save electric energy may be eligible. Typical projects include lighting, HVAC, HVAC controls, and food service equipment upgrades. Up to $10,000 is available for eligible businesses, with 100% funding for businesses that have been deemed as non-essential under the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department order dated March 16, 2020. For businesses that have been deemed essential, 10% of the project cost must be paid for by the business.

Continued here.

SMUD Announces Microloan Program for Local Nonprofits and Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

(July 17) In response to the devastating impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on local small businesses and nonprofits, SMUD announced that it has created a COVID-19 Relief: Nonprofit Microloan Program for those who serve Sacramento’s most vulnerable communities and who may not have qualified for the federal, state, and local loan offerings.

“The pandemic has the potential to paralyze many of our underserved communities, and by supporting these essential, local nonprofits who focus directly on community services, we can fill the funding gaps and have a greater impact on our community,” said Jose Bodipo-Memba, SMUD director of Sustainable Communities.

Continued here.

Announcing Energy Efficiency Grant for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

(July 7) To help Santa Clara small businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19, Silicon Valley Power is offering grants to help fund energy efficiency upgrades. These upgrades will help lower business operating costs by reducing electric consumption. Energy efficiency projects may also have other non-energy benefits, such as reduced maintenance costs.

Energy efficiency projects that save electric energy may be eligible. Typical projects include lighting, HVAC, HVAC controls, and food service equipment upgrades. Up to $10,000 is available for eligible businesses. Projects will be funded at 100% for businesses that have been deemed as non-essential under the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department order dated March 16, 2020. For a business that has been deemed essential, 10% of the project cost must be paid for by the business.

Continued here.

Rancho Seco Recreational Area Temporarily Closed to Day Visitors Due to COVID-19

(July 3) Out of an abundance of caution, SMUD is temporarily closing the Rancho Seco Recreational Area to day visitors effective immediately after park operator employees learned that a visitor subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. SMUD anticipates re-opening the park to day visitors on July 6.

Through extensive contact tracing, it was confirmed that no other park guests were exposed to the COVID-positive visitor.

Continued here.

COVID-19 Micro-Enterprise Relief Grants

(July 1) The Cities of Redding, Shasta Lake, and Anderson, in partnership with the Redding Chamber of Commerce, are excited to announce a special COVID-19 Relief Grant Program for Micro-Enterprise Businesses. The program is designed to provide $5,000 in grant funding to about 140 of the smallest brick and mortar businesses in the greater community – those that were likely hit the hardest during the pandemic. To qualify for the grant program, a business must have five or fewer employees, including the business owner, and must be a for-profit business that operates within Redding, Shasta Lake, or Anderson.

The program, funded by Community Development Block Grant Funds from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will disperse more than $750,000 in combined funding to businesses in the community. This money will help to ensure that some of the smallest local businesses will survive the COVID-19 pandemic. $682,000 will be contributed for Redding businesses, $62,000 will be contributed for Shasta Lake businesses, and funding amounts for Anderson are yet to be determined.

Continued here.

SMUD Limiting Rancho Seco Recreational Area During Independence Day Holiday

(June 29) SMUD is limiting access to Rancho Seco Recreational Area this Fourth of July holiday weekend to comply with capacity and social distancing restrictions mandated by state government due to COVID-19.

SMUD is restricting access to only 100 day-use vehicles and anticipates quickly reaching capacity and then closing the park, probably around 9 a.m. on July 3, 4, and 5. Folks who make the trip may be disappointed to learn that the park is full and closed when they arrive.

Continued here.

SMUD Extends Suspension of Power Shutoffs for Non-Payment Through January 4, 2021

(May 28) In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and growing economic challenges, SMUD (Sacramento, Calif.) announced it will extend the suspension of disconnecting power due to non-payment for residential and commercial customers until January 4, 2021.

“Our commitment to the community remains strong through tough financial times,” said Arlen Orchard, CEO and general manager of SMUD. “Because of the impact that this pandemic is having on our community, we want to ensure that our most vulnerable customers have access to power during these times.”

Continued here.

AMP Board Decides Not to Increase Electric Rates

(April 28) At its meeting on April 27, the city of Alameda’s Public Utilities Board unanimously decided not to increase electric rates for all AMP customers. The board voted to maintain the existing rates for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning July 1, 2020.

Due to the utility’s strong financial outlook, the board decided not to raise electric rates during a time when AMP customers are experiencing the economic impacts of COVID-19. AMP had earlier expected to propose a rate increase of up to 2% due to increases in purchased power costs and increased transmission costs, and other operating expenses such as labor and strategic plan initiatives.

Continued here.

LMUD Announces Emergency Energy Assistance for Customers Affected by COVID-19

(April 7) In order to alleviate some of the financial burden caused by the current pandemic, LMUD has allocated funds to help customers who have suffered a decrease in wages due to circumstances caused by COVID-19 response.

The program offers financial assistance to households whose income has been decreased by at least 30% on or after March 25, 2020 due to lay-offs, reduction in working hours and business closures. Once qualified, funds will be applied directly to the customers electric bill.

Continued here.

SMUD Extends Suspension of Power Shutoffs for Non-Payment Through May 30

(April 2) In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and growing economic challenges, SMUD (Sacramento, Calif.) announced it will extend the suspension of disconnecting power due to non-payment for residential and commercial customers until May 30.

“We made this decision due to the impact that COVID-19 is having on our local communities,” said Arlen Orchard, CEO and general manager of SMUD. “We want to ensure that our most vulnerable customers have access to power during these times.”

The suspension of power disconnection due to non-payment began March 13 and will last through May 30, as SMUD continues to monitor the evolving situation.

Continued here.

SMUD Extends Suspension of Power Shutoffs for Non-Payment

(March 27) In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and growing economic challenges, SMUD announced it will extend the suspension of disconnecting power due to non-payment for residential and commercial customers until April 17.

“We made this decision due to the impact that COVID-19 is having on our local communities,” said Arlen Orchard, CEO and general manager of SMUD. “We want to ensure that our most vulnerable customers have access to power during these times.”

Continued here.

Placer County Water Agency Continues to Supply Safe, Clean Drinking Water During COVID-19 Emergency

(March 19) Placer County Water Agency (Auburn, Calif.) released the following statement today regarding Agency operations in response to Placer County guidance on COVID-19:

“Following the ‘shelter in place’ directive issued today by Placer County, PCWA is transitioning to modified operations for employees and customers. Deliveries of drinking water will not be impacted by these modified operations and continue to meet all state and federal drinking water standards. Canal water deliveries will also not be affected.”

Continued here.

SMUD Closing All Buildings to the Public in Response to Pandemic While Continuing to Provide Electric Service

(March 18) In response to the escalating concerns about public safety and the COVID-19 pandemic, SMUD (Sacramento, Calif.) is closing all buildings to the public and will handle all customer business online at SMUD.org and via phone channels. Most importantly though, while SMUD buildings will be closed to the public, all SMUD outage response levels remain unchanged and all functions necessary to run the power system will operate as normal.

The building closures are effective immediately through at least April 17 and include SMUD’s Customer Service Center and lobby at 6301 S Street, Headquarters building, and East Campus-Operations Center.

Continued here.

PCWA Closes Business Center Lobbies until Further Notice

(March 16) In an effort to reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19, Placer County Water Agency (Auburn, Calif.) announced today that it is closing its business center lobbies until further notice. PCWA staff remains available to assist customers via telephone or electronic mail (e-mail).

Continued here.

SMUD Postponing All Large Non-Essential Meetings and Limiting Staff Presence at Events Due to Coronavirus Concerns

(March 11) To minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for SMUD employees and the public, effective immediately, SMUD (Sacramento, Calif.) has postponed all non-essential meetings with more than 50 participants and limited employee participation at external events to essential staff only. The restrictions will be in place until at least April 8 due to coronavirus concerns.

SMUD has been monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) issue closely and, in line with other large companies, has taken steps to minimize the risk of exposure for our employees and for the public. The situation is evolving quickly and SMUD continues to monitor developments and advice from public health officials to put in place measures to minimize risks to our employees, the public and our operations. This latest measure follows restriction of non-critical employee travel that SMUD implemented February 28.

Oregon

OTEC to Resume Normal Collection Activity on March 17, 2021

(February 17) Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (Baker City, Ore.) will resume normal collection activity, including disconnections and late fees for unpaid utilities, on March 17, 2021.

OTEC temporarily suspended disconnections and late fees on March 17, 2020, due to financial hardships placed on members due to COVID-19.

“We feel that it’s time to begin normal collection activities in order to be good stewards of our members’ financial resources and keep the cooperative operationally and financially resilient,” said OTEC Director of Member Services Eric Wirfs. “It was a difficult decision for us, but we continue to see the number of unpaid accounts climb. The amount owed from these accounts would be enough to possibly necessitate a rate increase if we do not shift measures to help members bring their accounts up to date.

Continued here.

Financial Assistance & Community Resources Still Available for OTEC Members

(January 14) As an essential service provider, Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (Baker City, Ore.) knows that electricity is foundational to all other areas of the economy, including essential services such as health care and public safety. OTEC also recognizes that many of our member-owners continue to experience financial hardship during the nearly year-long COVID-19 pandemic and wants to remind those struggling to pay their electric bills that financial aid is still available.

OTEC encourages members in Baker, Grant, and Union counties to contact Community Connections of Northeast Oregon, Inc, where they can apply for funds through the recently expanded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), on top helping find other state and federal aid. Members in Harney County are encouraged to contact the Harney County Senior Center for help to apply for assistance. OTEC will also help those members behind on their bills to set up flexible payment plans.

Continued here.

Columbia River PUD Offers COVID Relief Grant to Small Businesses

(November 17) Columbia River PUD is offering support to local small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. At their November 17 meeting, the PUD Board of Directors unanimously voted to offer a credit of up to $200 toward the electric bills of small business owners who have been affected by Governor Brown’s executive order.

This incentive was proposed in response to the recent executive order issued by Gov. Brown, which adversely affected many local small businesses. Columbia River PUD hopes to help mitigate the economic impact to these businesses that are so important to our local community.

Businesses that have established electric service as a small business with Columbia River PUD under Rate Schedule 20 are eligible.

Continued here.

City, EWEB team up on new assistance programs

(October 29) Some Eugene Water & Electric Board residential customers will soon see a $250 bill credit on their EWEB accounts, while nonprofit agencies and childcare providers can apply for a new utility grant program.

EWEB and the City of Eugene are teaming up to distribute $250,000 in federal CARES Act dollars that have been allocated to the City to help Eugene utility customers impacted by the pandemic.

“This collaboration with EWEB is a great example of how to leverage our CARES Funds to support multiple areas of need around our community,” said Chief Chris Heppel, incident command manager of City of Eugene’s Emergency Operations Center. “Using opportunities like this, with supportive partners, allows us to effectively pull multiple levers towards community recovery, allowing our dollars to carry more impact.”

Continued here.

BPA Takes Additional Precautions to Protect Workforce

(August 13) Given regional infection rates and the recent significant increase in the number of cases and exposures at various BPA locations, BPA is taking the precautionary measure of moving its workforce once more to a maximized telework status effective August 12 at 6 p.m.

All construction and maintenance work that is not directly tied to life safety or reliability of the grid will be suspended to protect the health and safety of our field workforce. This will also enable BPA to further evaluate current conditions and ensure that all necessary protective measures are in place prior to reinitiating maintenance and capital construction projects.

All virtual public meetings will continue as scheduled.

Continued here.

EWEB to Offer $200,000 in Assistance Funding in August for Customers Impacted by the Pandemic

(July 30) The Eugene Water & Electric Board will double the amount of funding available in August for its bill assistance programs; this is the fourth time since April the utility has increased funding to support customers during the pandemic

So far in 2020, EWEB has provided more than $1.2 million in bill assistance to 4,560 customers. During the same period in 2019, EWEB provided $450,000 in assistance to 2,240 customers. The utility initially budgeted $100,000 for August, but then decided to double that amount to provide more relief for assistance programs which became available on August 3. In August 2019, by comparison, EWEB distributed $60,750 in bill assistance.

Continued here.

EWEB Expands Payment Plan Programs to Help Customers Through Pandemic

(July 17) The Eugene Water & Electric Board is taking steps to help residential, business, and nonprofit customers maintain or re-establish good account standing and to ensure all customers have access to reliable power and safe water at affordable rates.

The community-owned utility is making available extended repayment plans to residential and commercial customers, including nonprofit agencies, who may be struggling to keep up with utility payments. For residential customers, the recovery program will allow them six months to bring existing balances of up to $3,000 up to date.

Continued here.

OTEC Jumpstarts Economic Recovery with 360-Degree, Virtual Reality Videos

(July 13) Eastern Oregon is a popular vacation destination and tourism is one of the top three industries for the four-county area that Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (Baker City, Ore.) serves. The cooperative, along with providing safe and reliable electric service for the area, is involved with economic development and they know that local businesses are hurting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fortunately, the cooperative already has a project in progress that’s going to jumpstart economic development and attract future visitors: virtual tours with 360-degree video and virtual reality.

“The lack of tourism is really hurting a lot of our businesses, so we’re looking at that impact and how to help them,” said Lea Gettle, manager of administration and strategic services for OTEC. “Because we already started our PlaceVR projects, we can offer people an experience online, just like all of the big museums and tourist attractions are doing.”

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EWEB Announces COVID-19 Bill Repayment Assistance Programs

(July 7) We’re taking steps to help residential, business, and non-profit customers maintain or re-establish good account standing and ensure all customers have access to reliable power and water at affordable rates.

We recognize this is a challenging time for many residents and businesses, and some may be struggling to keep up with utility payments. As a community-owned, nonprofit utility, we have always worked with our customers in crisis, and this time is no different.

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BPA Offers Rate Relief to Customers Hit Economically by Pandemic

(June 29) The Bonneville Power Administration issued today a decision to suspend its financial reserves surcharge through September 2021.“This decision is the result of a strong collaborative partnership with our customers,” said BPA Administrator and CEO Elliot Mainzer. “The steps we have taken in recent years to sustain BPA’s financial health make it possible for us to provide some measure of relief to our power customers as they work to address the economic consequences of the pandemic.”

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UEC and HES Work with Amazon Web Services to Support the Umatilla-Morrow Community

(June 22) Today, Umatilla Electric Cooperative and Hermiston Energy Services announced they are working with Amazon Web Services to donate funds to support local electric utility customers, food banks, and students impacted by COVID-19.

As a not-for-profit, member-owned company, UEC operates at cost, with net operating revenues, or margins, returned to its customers in the form of cash refunds via the capital credits program. Under this program, which applies to all UEC utility customers, AWS was eligible for a patronage refund and is working with UEC and HES to donate those funds back to the local community.

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OTEC to Hold 2020 Annual Meeting of the Membership Virtually

(April 27) Due to concern for the health and well-being of our member-owners and the communities we serve during the COVID-19 pandemic and following federal and state guidelines barring gatherings of large groups, Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative’s (Baker City, Ore.) 2020 Annual Meeting, scheduled for Saturday, May 30, will be held virtually at 10:30 a.m.

The OTEC board president will preside at the meeting and conduct business as necessary.

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Clatskanie PUD Employees & Board Directors Personally Donate $11,400 to Local Food Banks

(L-R) Clatskanie PUD General Manager Marc Farmer presents checks to Kelly Miller, the director of Turning Point and HOPE, for the funds personally donated by Clatskanie PUD employees and board directors.

(April 16) The Clatskanie PUD (Ore.) staff and board participated in an internal fundraiser to help the two local food banks, Turning Point in Clatskanie and HOPE in Rainier. They personally donated $11,400 which will be divided equally between the two organizations. This is the largest fundraiser they have ever achieved, with 100% participation of the employees and board directors, and it more than doubled their highest amount from previous food bank fundraisers.

The employees and board directors wanted to find a way to give back in a big way to support the communities they serve. The Clatskanie PUD staff and board really stepped up to make the food drive a success, and help those in need during this challenging time!

Central Lincoln PUD Creates Extra eNewsletter to Help Employees Stay Connected

(April 13) Central Lincoln PUD (Newport, Ore.) has added a bi-weekly enewsletter to help employees stay in touch with one another since many indoor workers are working from home, or partially from home, and the utility’s employees are spread out over nearly 700 square miles of territory and beyond.  Various departments share bulleted items about what they are doing and opportunities employees need to know about, such as the utility’s food drives and CLPUD’s Job Loss Assistance program to help the unemployed with their bills.  Now that Central Lincoln employees are wearing masks at work to help slow the spread of Covid-19, they are welcome to submit selfies to an online gallery (https://clpud.smugmug.com/Mask-Up-/) and that has been a popular site.  General Manager Randy Grove, who is wearing the OSU-themed mask in the gallery, sends the new enewsletter out twice a week to all employees.

“HUGE thanks to the volunteers who spent hours sewing masks for our employees throughout the District!  When the CDC issued the recommendation that everyone mask up before coming into contact with people outside their households, these folks jumped in and started mass mask production,” Grove wrote in a recent enewsletter. “In the northern half of our District, our mask makers included Kay Chambers, wife of our board member Jim Chambers; and other volunteers, including a teacher at Toledo High School. In the southern portion, we were helped by our Journeyman Lineman Bo Green’s sister Lindsay Green; volunteers from Operations Supervisor Greg Carter’s church; and an instructional assistant who works with special needs students.”

EWEB Commissioners to Hold Virtual Meeting Tuesday

(April 3) Eugene Water & Electric Board Commissioners will hold their monthly meeting on Tuesday via telephone to adhere to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” executive order to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. To comply with the governor’s order, there will be no in-person attendance at the virtual meeting.

Members of the public wishing to provide comments regarding EWEB business are invited to do so by sending an email to eweb.answers@eweb.org with the subject line “public comment.” All public input will be reviewed by commissioners and executive staff. Written testimony of 200 words or less will be read into the public record, and all testimony will be summarized in the meeting minutes. Those interested should submit comments by 4:30 p.m. on April 7.

More information here.

Northern Wasco PUD Board Postpones Rate Increase

(April 1) Today, the PUD Board of Directors unanimously approved a resolution to postpone a rate increase until May 2021.

On February 4, 2020, the Northern Wasco County PUD (The Dalles, Ore.) Board of Directors approved a rate increase to become effective with May 2020 bills. Due the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the board convened in a special session today to re-visit that decision.

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Salem Electric Announces Lobby Closure and Temporary Suspension of Disconnects and Late Fees

(March 18) Salem Electric (Ore.) is closely monitoring information from the Centers for Disease Control, and federal, state, and local agencies regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). For the health and safety of the communities we serve, Salem Electric has temporarily closed the office lobby to the public until further notice. Representatives are still available by phone or email during regular business hours.

To further support members impacted by COVID-19, Salem Electric is temporarily suspending late fees and disconnects. If a member is having difficulty paying their bill in full or on time, we encourage them to contact us at (503) 362-3601 to set up a payment plan. Those who need additional financial assistance may qualify for our Winter Heating Assistance Program. To learn more, visit SalemElectric.com.

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OTEC Announces Temporary Suspension of Disconnects and Late Fees and Office Closures to Walk-In Traffic

(March 17) OTEC (Baker City, Ore.) is closely monitoring the developments of the coronavirus COVID-19 and continuing to take precautions to protect the public and our employees. For the health and safety of the communities we serve, OTEC will be closing its four offices in Baker City, La Grande, John Day, and Burns to the public on Tuesday, March 17, at 5 p.m. The offices will remain closed to walk-in traffic until further notice. The drive-through window at our La Grande district office will remain open. Appointments for in-person business will be available by calling (541) 523-3616.

To further the support for our members impacted during this time, OTEC is temporarily suspending late fees and disconnections. Please call our offices at (541) 523-3616 if you are having difficulty paying your electric bill, we will work with you to set up a payment plan. Your cooperative will continue to evaluate other ways to support our members for the duration of this quickly evolving public health emergency.

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EWEB to Close Offices to Public in Response to Coronavirus

(March 16) In an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Eugene Water & Electric Board will close its Customer Service lobby to the public starting Tuesday, March 17.

This decision follows a great deal of deliberation, and was made to protect employees and customers by reducing the risk of contracting and/or transmitting the virus. EWEB’s first priority is keeping customers and employees safe and well-informed while minimizing the spread of the coronavirus.

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Feds Shift Seattle, Portland CRSO EIS Meetings to “Phone Only”

(March 12) The developing COVID-19 outbreak in Washington and Oregon has prompted federal officials to adjust two scheduled public comment meeting for the recently released Columbia River System Operation draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration decided that the in-person public comment meetings planned for Seattle and Portland will not be held due to the high number of COVID-19 cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in those geographical areas and calls from local officials to limit public exposure.

Details on when and how to call into the phone sessions will be posted at www.crso.info. The agencies will continue to monitor the public health situation and make further adjustments as needed. The public is encouraged to monitor the website for any updates.

The draft EIS is available for public review online at https://cdxnodengn.epa.gov/cdx-enepa-II/public/action/eis/search (EPA’s searchable EIS database) or www.crso.info.

Washington

Benton PUD’s COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program Extended

(August 2) Benton PUD (Kennewick, Wash.) has extended its customer assistance program through the end of the year. Qualified past-due residential and small business customers may receive a bill credit up to $200 and payment matching.

Governor Jay Inslee has issued a final extension of the utility disconnect moratorium, which will now expire on September 30, 2021. While good intentioned, the governor’s moratorium has resulted in many customers accumulating significant past-due balances and a future financial burden. As a not-for-profit, locally controlled business, Benton PUD exists to meet the needs of its customers which we have proudly been doing for 75 years. In response to the financial hardships resulting from COVID-19, we offered the Customer Assistance Program beginning in May and are now extending the program through the end of the year. For qualifying customers, this is an opportunity to reduce or eliminate past-due balances.

Klickitat PUD Is a Recipient of the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy Grant Administered by Washington State Department of Commerce

(July 14) Klickitat PUD (Goldendale, Wash.) has been awarded a grant in the amount of $245,000 from the Washington State Department of Commerce Community Services and Housing Division Office of Crime Victims Advocacy. The funding is federally provided through Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funds (CESF) and will provide Klickitat PUD customers COVID-19 customer relief programs.

Klickitat PUD submitted a proposal in February of this year to provide utility customers options and help in anticipation of the end of the COVID-19 disconnection moratorium. The KPUD commissioners’ direction was to seek external funding for customers who have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and have suffered financial challenges resulting in accounts falling in arrears. KPUD was notified in April that it was one of six local government, non-profit, and Tribe projects that were selected to be awarded a grant from a group of 74 eligible applications. There was an unexpected delay in funding programs due to a challenge of the grant awards. That challenge has now been resolved and the program funding can move forward.

Continued here.

Important OPALCO Billing Updates

(June 9) Governor Inslee is expected to lift the moratorium on all utility disconnects on July 31, 2021. Since the beginning of the pandemic, OPALCO (Eastsound, Wash.) has worked with its members to offer bill-pay assistance and long-term payment options for those who have fallen behind on their bills. Members who have payment plans in place will not be disconnected! OPALCO staff are available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to help members to create a payment plan so than no one gets left behind. Please call (360) 376-3500 today if you are behind on your OPALCO bill.

In addition to an OPALCO payment plan, there are resources available to help those who are struggling with bills due to COVID-19 impacts. Contact your island Family/Community Resource Center to learn more or visit wa211.org to access information. OPALCO is working with the Family/Community Resource Centers to help members get caught up – but members in arrears must act now. After the moratorium is lifted, OPALCO will return to the normal cycle of billing and collections, including disconnects, and normal penalty fees will begin again after October 27, 2021.

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COVID-19 Customer Assistance Available to Qualified Benton PUD Customers

(May 3) Beginning May 1, 2021, qualified past-due customers who certify they have been impacted by COVID-19 will receive a one-time bill credit for their past due bill amount as of April 30, 2021, up to $200. Past due is defined as 30 days in arrears. Qualified low-income customers that are not past due and certify they have been financially impacted by COVID-19 will receive a one-time bill credit of $200.

To help customers pay down higher past-due balances, Benton PUD (Kennewick, Wash.) will also match payments made by qualified past-due customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The payment match is available for up to half of the April 30, 2021, past-due amount, after the initial bill credit is applied. Payments made between May 1 and July 31, 2021, are eligible for this match. The program will end on July 31, 2021. Applications are available at BentonPUD.org

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Grant PUD Helps Customers Impacted by COVID-19

(March 24) With the passing of the one-year mark since the start of the pandemic, Grant PUD (Ephrata, Wash.) is getting a clearer view of the impact COVID-19 has had on its customers’ ability to stay current on their Grant PUD bill.

Senior Manager of Customer Solutions Terry McKenzie said that based on the past due amounts it appears, residential customers have felt the impacts of the pandemic the most amongst all of Grant PUD’s customer groups.

McKenzie reported that as of the end of February, 1,072 residential customers were more than 90 days past due on their electric bill. This is compared to just 39 residential customers in a similar position in January 2020 before the pandemic was declared. During this timeframe, the amount of outstanding payments over 90 days also increased from $1,012 to $286,395.

Chief Customer Officer, Dave Churchman said when compared to the company’s total receivables and overall customer count, the percentage of customers past due is small enough that the utility is optimistic they will be able to work with those impacted to get any past due payments resolved.

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Chelan Opens Walla Walla Point Park Lots to Support Vaccine Efforts

(March 3) Chelan PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) continues to provide support for Chelan-Douglas Health District’s vaccination efforts at Town Toyota Center. In a report to PUD commissioners, staff outlined a plan to use parking lots at Walla Walla Point Park to help the health district vaccinate more people in North Central Washington.

Volunteers will direct vaccination traffic into a line that travels through about half of the parking areas at Walla Walla Point Park, then on to Town Toyota Center. That means parking will be limited to the northern lots, near the ballfields, at Walla Walla Point Park at least through June. Park users may also find available spots at Linden Tree at Ninth Street and Walla Walla Avenue, or Riverfront Park at the end of Fifth Street.

Since vaccination began at Town Toyota Center, Chelan PUD has provided snow removal, security, radios, fuel, and power generation in support of the effort.

OPALCO Response to COVID-19 Cases on Lopez

(February 9) Three OPALCO (Eastsound, Wash.) employees have tested positive for COVID-19 on Lopez Island and others are under quarantine, following the county protocol. At this time, the employees who tested positive appear to have mild to no symptoms and are resting at home. As their quarantine periods are up over the next week or so, we expect a full return to work.

OPALCO is operating under strict COVID-19 precautions with masks required whenever an employee is not at their distanced workstation or, in field conditions, whenever within 10 feet of another person. OPALCO’s response to the positive cases includes continued daily contact tracing, increased internal communication, and an interim staffing plan to cover outages and emergencies on Lopez.

OPALCO’s top priority is safety. The co-op has a pandemic plan in place to maintain reliable and safe electric service while protecting employees and members from exposure to illness. The source of the cases on Lopez is not clear, but the response is that all employees who may have been exposed are safely quarantining and all employees have been reminded to take every precaution against exposure. OPALCO is cooperating closely with the County Health Department to manage this outbreak and limit the spread.

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OPALCO Board Meetings Open to Co-op Members Via Zoom

(January 18) Beginning with the January 21 regular meeting of the OPALCO (Eastsound, Wash.) Board of Directors, co-op members will be able to sit in on virtual board meetings using a Zoom connection. A link for members to access the meetings will be published with board materials each Monday before a board meeting online at www.opalco.com. Go to the Document Library / Board Meetings & Materials.

When OPALCO shifted to virtual meetings in March 2020 due to COVID-19, staff hosted a Facebook Live session at the beginning of each meeting to continue the tradition of a member comment-and-question period. OPALCO has upgraded their technical capacity to include co-op members for the entire regular meeting and will continue to invite member comments and questions during the first part of the meeting and again at the end of each meeting.

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COVID-19 Funding Help for Past Due Bills

(December 23) Jefferson County PUD and OlyCAP have been granted CARES Act funding by Jefferson County to assist residents and businesses negatively affected by COVID-19 with their utility bills.

Jefferson County PUD has $40,000 available for business customers who have outstanding balances of 60 days or more and can attest to negative financial, health, or other effects due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Power, water, and sewer bills are all eligible, said PUD Services Director Jean Hall.

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Mason PUD 1 Receives Innovation Award for Pandemic Response

(December 15) Mason County PUD No. 1 (Potlatch, Wash.) was honored by AT&T and Government Technology for the District’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic at a national Special Districts Summit, held virtually on December 15. According to Government Technology’s website, the Special Districts Awards Program is designed to recognize innovation and leadership within special district agencies across the country. This year, the program was looking for notable examples of how special districts applied innovative technologies and leadership to response and recovery efforts as they relate to COVID-19. Hundreds of submissions were submitted from agencies across the United States.

Mason PUD 1’s general manager, Kristin Masteller, was invited to be a panelist at GovTech’s virtual Special Districts West Coast Summit this past August, joining panelists from Orange County Transportation Authority in California and Pinellas County in Florida.

“I am very honored and proud that our small public agency out here on the Hood Canal was recognized alongside giant metropolitan districts like Orange County and New York Power Authority. It doesn’t seem now like the actions we took when the pandemic started were that innovative, but they were extraordinary at that time,” Masteller said. “We closed our doors to the public for the first time in 85 years. That’s a big deal, and although most other agencies have now taken the same precautions to protect their employees and customers, we were the first ones to do that in Mason County and it was scary to take that leap. We didn’t know how bad this pandemic would end up being and were wary of appearing like we were overreacting when we sent people home and split up our crews. It was absolutely the right thing to do though, putting the safety of people above operational norms, and we have reaped the benefits of it to-date with a healthy workforce and maintaining reliable utility services.”

Chelan PUD Rallies Around Local Healthcare Workers

(December 9) Chelan PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) organized an effort among employees to cheer on Confluence Health employees at the 7 a.m. shift change on Wednesday. Roughly 30 employees from both Confluence Health and the PUD were ringing bells and waving signs to boost morale.

“Our hope is that this will have a ripple effect throughout the community,” said Rachel Hansen, senior communications strategist. “Over the years, I’ve seen the people of North Central Washington rally around each other and really accomplish some amazing things.”

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Clark Public Utilities Offers CARES Act Grants to Qualifying Customers

(November 12) Clark Public Utilities (Vancouver) is distributing grants of up to $500 to utility customers with outstanding balances on their electric and/or water utility accounts due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding for the grants is provided by Clark County, which named Clark Public Utilities as a sub-recipient of up to $4 million in federal CARES Act monies to assist residents who’ve experienced financial hardship since the pandemic began.

The utility is directly contacting potentially eligible customers and urging them to apply for a grant as soon as possible. The funds are only available for a limited time and will be applied on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Benton PUD Opens to Customers

(November 3) Benton PUD opens lobby and drive-thru facilities to customers today. Customer Service staff in Kennewick and Prosser are available to assist customers during regular business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“As a community-owned business, Benton PUD exists for the benefit of our customers. While we offer many self-service options, providing in-person services will help us better assist the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Christie McAloon, manager of Customer Service.

In accordance with state mandates, masks are required inside our facilities along with social distancing. Please do not visit our facilities if you are sick.

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Lewis County PUD Seeking Customer Applications for Utility Bill Assistance Through CARES Act Funds

(October 26) Following action taken at the Lewis County Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Monday, October 26, Lewis County PUD (Chehalis, Wash.) was named a subrecipient of Lewis County’s federal CARES Act funding allocation. The intent of the agreement is to allow the PUD to provide direct assistance to PUD residential customers experiencing a COVID-19-related financial hardship by applying a credit to the outstanding balance on their utility account. The assistance is not income-based, so nearly anyone with a COVID-related hardship is eligible to receive the funds. Qualifying customers will not need to pay the funds back.

Lewis County PUD was allocated $100,000 in funds for residential electric accounts. Customers can apply to have funds credited to their utility accounts through this CARES Act allocation if they have experienced financial difficulties because of the pandemic emergency.

“The CARES Act funds were meant to provide direct relief to American families, and this assistance will help many of our most struggling Lewis County customers with their electric bill,” said Lewis County PUD General Manager Chris Roden. “We strongly encourage qualifying customers to apply for assistance as soon as possible.”

Funding is on a first-come-first-served basis until the funds are expended or until the funding deadline. Applications for assistance must be received by the PUD on or by 5 p.m. on November 10, 2020. The reason for this quick timeline is that the state requires local government entities to have spent their CARES Act funding by the end of November.

CARES Act Money Will Assist Grays Harbor PUD Customers Impacted by COVID-19

(October 22) Following an agreement with Grays Harbor County, the Grays Harbor PUD (Aberdeen, Wash.) will begin using CARES Act dollars to aid customers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agreement, approved by the board of county commissioners and the board of PUD commissioners this week, will allow the PUD to apply $500,000 in federal aid to customer accounts. Customers who apply can receive financial assistance which will be applied to their account balances. To apply, customers must fill out the proper application which lists COVID-related hardships that have impacted their household. Those hardships include increased household expenses related to COVID-19, loss of income related to COVID-19, and other financial hardships directly related to COVID-19.

Due to federal guidelines, the CARES Act funding can only be used until the end of November, leaving customers just over one month to fill out their applications which will be accepted until November 25. Application forms are available online and at the PUD drive-up window.

Grays Harbor Adds Mobile Hotspot to Olympic Stadium

(September 1) Olympic Stadium in Hoquiam, Wash., is the site of a new mobile hotspot installed by the Grays Harbor PUD and other partners. Users can either walk or drive into the parking lot of the Cherry Street landmark, choose the homeworkhub Wi-Fi network on their mobile device, and receive free access to the PUD fiber network for business, school, and a host of other needs.

“Many organizations have come together to make this happen in Grays Harbor and around the state,” said PUD Core Services Director Rob Hanny, whose office oversees the PUD Telecommunications department. “With students headed back to school with remote classrooms, it serves as a reminder of just how important access to online services are.”

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Grant PUD Partnership Pays It Forward During COVID-19

(August 31) Sabey Data Centers, headquartered in Seattle, recently donated 75 Chromebook computers to school districts in Grant County. Sabey operates a colocation data center campus in Quincy, Wash.

Sabey graciously chose to contribute to Grant PUD’s (Ephrata, Wash.) Pay-it-Forward fund with the Columbia Basin Foundation. This fund provides opportunity for Grant PUD customers to contribute to various projects benefitting the community. With the COVID-19 crisis, the donation of these Chromebooks is timely as some local school districts are struggling to provide computers to assist students with online learning.

“Sabey has called Grant County home for nearly 10 years and it is important to us to support the communities we operate in, especially during times of crisis,” said Ryan Beebout, Sabey Central Washington general manager. “Thanks to Grant PUD and the Columbia Basin Foundation we’ve been able to partner with schools in need of equipment to make sure that technology is not a barrier for kids trying to learn during this challenging time.”

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Rock Island: A World of Connection

(July 31) Rock Island and OPALCO (Eastsound, Wash.) have once again partnered up to help islanders in need during the pandemic. OPALCO has expanded its Energy Assist program to provide monthly bill credits to residential and commercial members in need, and Rock Island offers a $25/month bill credit for customers on OPALCO’s Energy Assist Program (show your power bill to get the credit). This spring, Rock Island applied for a USDA Distance Learning Grant to install remote-learning facilities to support teachers and share teaching resources in every middle- and high-school classroom in SJC. Grant awards will be announced at year end. Currently, more than 100 households county-wide are connected to free internet service for online schooling through Rock Island’s Access Education program.
 
The collective investment of partners and subscribers in this project has already significantly moved our community toward true world connectivity, but the work isn’t done until all islanders can enjoy a success story. What services do you need to protect your family, your business, or your health? For a state-of-the-art fiber connection, go to rockisland.com/getfiber to fill out the online fiber request form. You can now finance a fiber connection on your OPALCO bill through our Switch It Up! program. If you are a subscriber and are experiencing any difficulties, please reach out to the support team at support@rockisland.com.

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OPALCO COVID Update

(July 24) Since March, OPALCO has helped more than 450 members pay their bills. Other members have given generously to the member assistance programs, donating solar production credits or directly to the low-income programs. Many other members have benefited by not accruing fees or being disconnected for non-payment during these difficult times.

OPALCO is closely monitoring member requests for assistance and payment arrears during the pandemic. They are digging deep to put any and all available resources into helping members pay their power bills.

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Hispanic Leaders Addressed COVID-19 Crisis

(June 26) Hispanic leaders from across the state, Franklin PUD, and the Benton-Franklin Health District have partnered to address the COVID-19 crisis affecting the Latino community in Benton and Franklin counties. On June 29, the speakers encouraged people to wear masks, encouraged social distancing, and educated residents on the health risks of COVID-19.

The goal is to encourage mask wearing and good social distancing practices in the Hispanic community. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly through the Hispanic community for various reasons. Many are essential workers, thousands are part of the agricultural industry, and many come from large families where social distancing is a challenge. We are not blaming the Hispanic community for the spread. Everyone must do their part to defeat COVID-19.

More information available here.

Chelan PUD and Community Partners Are Hosting Drive-Thru Event in Wenatchee

(June 15) Chelan County families can get help with everything from paying their utility bill to finding fun things to do with kids during summer break at a “Resource Drive” on Saturday, June 27. The drive-thru event is noon to 2:30 p.m. in the Town Toyota Center parking lot, 1300 Walla Walla Ave., Wenatchee.

Chelan County PUD is teaming up with community partners for the first-time event. Free resources will range from tips for customers to help save energy and lower power bills to a take-home box of fun activities to help children fill summer vacation hours. Chelan PUD customers will receive a “care package,” from their hometown utility.

Continued here.

Campgrounds, Golf Course, and Other Amenities Reopen at Grant PUD Recreation Sites

(June 1) Grant PUD (Ephrata, Wash.) reopened our campgrounds and many other day-use amenities earlier today.

Many of the amenities have been modified in accordance with guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Grant County Health District to promote social distancing and protect public health.

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PUD Mobile Hotspots Offer Wi-Fi Access During COVID Shutdown

(May 8) At a time when staying connected is more important than ever, the Grays Harbor PUD (Aberdeen, Wash.) is teaming together with cities, schools, and a large group of state and independent agencies to provide free access to the PUD fiber network. Using mobile hotspots, free Wi-Fi access will be provided at strategic points around Grays Harbor County. Users can simply drive-up or walk-up to the sites and immediately have online access for business, school, and a host of other needs.

“Today more than ever, internet access is a critical part of our lives and a way to keep connected to family, schools, and businesses. However not everyone has the same level of access, especially in rural Washington. Mobile sites like these will help to change that,” said PUD Core Services Director Rob Hanny, whose office oversees the PUD Telecommunications Department.

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Jefferson County PUD Refunds Deposits to Help with COVID Crisis

(May 7) The Jefferson County PUD (Port Townsend, Wash.) Board of Commissioners approved a resolution at their May 5 regular meeting that provides a one-time refund of all PUD residential customer deposits.

According to PUD General Manager Kevin Streett, the PUD collects deposits from new electric customers who have medium to poor credit, no credit, or who do not want a credit check performed. Depending on the customer’s credit score, a deposit of either $100-$200 is collected at the time the account is created. Deposits are generally refunded a year later if the customer shows prompt payment of all bills during that period.

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Grant PUD to Open Boat Launches and Certain Recreation Amenities at Noon on May 8

(May 7) Grant PUD is pleased to announce that our boat launches and most recreation areas will open at noon, May 8.

We thank everyone for your patience as we work together to safely reopen our recreation facilities.

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Mason 1’s GM Participates in National Panel

(May 5) Public Utilities Fortnightly and American Public Power Association CEO Joy Ditto asked Mason County PUD No. 1 (Potlatch, Wash.) General Manager Kristin Masteller to participate in a recent online panel. Masteller represented the Pacific Northwest and discussed Mason 1’s response to COVID-19.

Click here to watch the full video.

Columbia REA Contributes $10,000 to the Fight Against COVID-19

(May 4) Columbia REA (Walla Walla, Wash.) has partnered with the Providence St. Mary Foundation to help strengthen its community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Columbia REA will donate $10,000 to the Foundation for the ongoing response to the coronavirus outbreak, and more specifically, to help fund the continuation of the Community Health Worker program, which is part of the Population Health service line operated by Providence St. Mary Medical Center/Providence Medical Group.

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Klickitat PUD Implements COVID-19 Small Business Customer Assistance Program

(May 1) Klickitat PUD (Goldendale, Wash.) has concerns about the impacts on our community due to the COVID-19 crisis and state-mandated business closures. In the interest of public safety and regional economic stability, improving access to energy assistance for COVID-19 affected customers is a priority.

Klickitat PUD commissioners recognized the lack of energy assistance available specifically for small businesses and asked staff to work on a proposal to address this need. In coordination with Klickitat County Economic Development (KCED), staff began to develop a COVID-19 Small Business Customer Assistance Program. KPUD commissioners approved implementation of the program at their meeting on April 28. The intent of the program is to take reasonable action to mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our small business utility customers. The program extends discounts to impacted small businesses depending on business type. It is intended to encourage appropriate reopening of businesses that are struggling to keep the lights on due to this crisis, or have had to close their doors due to state mandates.

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Mason 3 Discusses Conservation in the Time of COVID 19

(April 29) The “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order in Washington state has many people using more energy in their homes than normal. You can take control of your power use.

With families following the advice to “Stay Home, Stay Healthy,” many may see higher energy consumption, which means higher electricity bills. While it’s not surprising that more people at home for longer periods of time leads to more energy use, there are ways to keep it under control.

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Inslee Extends Stay-At-Home Order Through May 31, Unveils 4-Phase Plan to Reopen Washington

(May 1) Inslee is extending the “stay home, stay healthy” order through May 31. The order will be rolled back in four phases, spaced about three weeks apart.

The following ten counties (many of which are served by NWPPA member utilities) will be allowed to apply for a variance, which means they can open faster than others: Columbia, Garfield, Jefferson, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Wahkiakum, Kittitas, Ferry, and Grays Harbor.

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Chelan PUD and Local Internet Providers Go Live with First Set of Wi-Fi Hot Spots

(May 1) Chelan County PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) is partnering with local internet service providers (ISPs) to create free Wi-Fi access points known as “hotspots” at locations across the county.

Working with community organizations to identify sites, the PUD and LocalTel launched the first set of hotspots last week.

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Grant PUD to Evaluate Reopening of Recreation Sites

(May 1) Grant PUD (Ephrata, Wash.) is evaluating when it can reopen its recreation sites, which were closed in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grant PUD operates 20 recreation sites on the Columbia River. During the pandemic, the utility is placing the highest priority on keeping its mission critical systems functioning. These systems include safely operating our dams to provide power generation, manage river flows and accommodate fish passage, as well as delivering power to our customers, and operating our fiber optic network.

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Okanogan PUD Will Deploy 15 Free Hotspots

(April 30) Okanogan County PUD (Okanogan, Wash.) will install 15 free drive-in hotspots throughout the county, especially for students working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Director of Power Resources and Broadband Services Ron Gadeberg shared basics of the plan at the April 27 board of commissioners meeting. Working with schools, the PUD has identified the 15 locations based on current availability on the district’s network and the local need for access.

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OPALCO Board Approves Additional COVID-19 Relief Measures

(April 29) We are all in this together. OPALCO (Eastsound, Wash.) is very concerned about how its members are getting along during this pandemic and is digging deep to put any and all available resources into helping members to pay their power bills. The board approved additional relief measures at their regular meeting on Thursday, April 23—and there’s something for everyone.

Power and broadband are essential services—especially critical during this great disruption. OPALCO is doing all it can to help, without putting the viability of the co-op at risk.

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Tacoma Public Utilities Expands Relief for Customers

(April 29) Tacoma’s Public Utility Board and City Council approved additional funding for Tacoma Public Utilities’ (Wash.) Emergency Assistance Program, a relief program established on March 17 in response to the COVID-19 State of Emergency. Since the program launched with $1 million in funding, nearly 10,000 TPU residential customers have applied for the funds, prompting the decision to increase the total funding provided to $2.4 million.

“When we started this program, our goal was to help community members struggling with financial hardship during this emergency,” said Jackie Flowers, director of Tacoma Public Utilities. “In addition to quickly establishing the Emergency Assistance Program, we also extended payment plans, stopped disconnections, and can waive late fees.”

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Lewis County PUD Partners with ToledoTel to Establish Free, Open Wi-Fi hotspots

(April 24) In response to an urgent need for internet access points in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lewis County PUD (Chehalis, Wash.) is partnering with ToledoTel, a local and family-owned telecom and broadband provider, to establish six strategically located wireless internet access points in the community. The six Wi-Fi hotspots will be free and open to the public. The locations chosen for these access points were based on utilizing existing broadband infrastructure and an analysis of data by the Center on Rural Innovation which identified the areas of the county with low levels of student internet connectivity.

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Franklin PUD Broadband Offering Free Wi-Fi Hotspots to Franklin County

(April 23) Franklin PUD (Pasco, Wash.) Broadband is offering free Wi-Fi hotspots so teachers and students can have access to high speed internet. The hotspots are now up and running.

“The goal is to reach kids and families who may not have internet access or who don’t have fast enough internet speeds needed to complete homework during the COVID-19 distance learning. We hope to continue expanding hotspots across the county. The signal can travel up to an 800-foot radius. It’s a very strong signal so users can stream video and perform most tasks you would at home,” said Ben Hooper, Franklin PUD’s broadband manager.

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Mason PUD 3 to Roll Out Drive-By Wi-Fi Hotspots to Help Students During COVID-19 Emergency

Mason PUD 3’s electric vehicle makes a stop at the Port of Dewatto office on Mason County’s Tahuya Peninsula. The location is one of the prospective sites for a Drive-By Wi-Fi hotspot.

(April 20) Mason PUD 3 (Shelton, Wash.) has been working with community partners to make sure every student in Mason County has a safe place where they can use a free high-speed Wi-Fi hotspot to access classwork, download assignments, and communicate with their teacher.

PUD 3 teamed up with fire districts, port districts, community halls, Mason County parks, and others to identify locations for the hotspots where these locations have existing and nearby PUD fiber-optic equipment. The sites will be all over Mason County, from the Tahuya Peninsula to Matlock, and many places in between. Wireless equipment is on order and will be installed in the coming weeks. 

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Jefferson PUD Adding Wi-Fi Hotspots

(April 13) Internet access is more important than ever. Jefferson County PUD (Port Townsend, Wash.) is working to add Wi-Fi hotspots around the county in the next few weeks to help those without access to internet at home to have locations to go where they can connect to internet from their cars.

Our first and test hotspot is located outside our customer service office at 210 Four Corners Rd. We also have a Wi-Fi hotspot setup at our Chimacum Substation on Chimacum Rd. across from the Keg & I. We opened the gates at the road to make it easy to access the lot.

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Local Internet Providers Have Chelan PUD Support to Set up Community Hot Spots Offering Free Access

(April 15) Chelan County PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) is partnering with local internet service providers to create Wi-Fi access points (known as hotspots) across the county to offer free internet access. This is to help people who are coping with the impacts of the coronavirus crisis and the need for students to continue learning while schools are physically closed.

Three service providers have confirmed participation, and the plan is to have the first active hotspots in place within seven to 14 days.

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Mason PUD 1 Partners with Local Businesses for Supplies

PUD 1 Purchasing Agent Rich Crump (left) poses an appropriate social distance away from The Hardware Distillery owners Chuck and Jan Morris at their shop in Hoodsport.
The sanitizer is bottled in regular glass bottles.

(April 13) Mason County PUD No. 1 (Potlatch, Wash.) has found a new partner in its battle to protect utility workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hardware Distillery company in downtown Hoodsport has shifted their business model from producing craft spirits like whiskey and gin, to the production of hand sanitizer for the Mason County community. Jan and Chuck Morris, owners of the distillery, say they intentionally limit the offering of their product to Mason County to ensure that the limited resources are put to good use in their own community.

To keep their utility personnel working and safe, PUD 1, along with other essential businesses, are competing with the rest of Mason County’s shoppers for supplies, such as hand sanitizer, face masks, rubbing alcohol, bleach, disinfectant wipes, and, of course, toilet paper. Lead by the efforts of PUD 1 Purchasing Agent Rich Crump and Treasurer Katie Arnold, the PUD has been working creative angles and leveraging longtime relationships with suppliers and retail managers to procure the supplies the District needs to continue operating. When the opportunity came to partner with The Hardware Distillery company to purchase sanitizer locally in Hoodsport, it seemed like a perfect match.

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Chelan PUD Commissioners Postpone Rate Increases to Help Customers Facing Financial Hardships from COVID-19

(April 13) Chelan County PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) commissioners on Monday unanimously voted to delay for six months the adopted rate increase that was scheduled to go into effect on June 1.

The action means residential electric, water, and wastewater rates stay the same until December 1, 2020. The wholesale fiber rate increase also is postponed for six months.

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Pend Oreille PUD Installs Community Wi-Fi Hotspots

(March 26) Public Utility District No. 1 of Pend Oreille County (Newport, Wash.) has installed several free community Wi-Fi hotspots. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the PUD launched this effort to help those in the community gain internet access. With businesses, restaurants, and public facilities closed, the options for customers to connect are currently limited. The PUD hopes to help bring connectivity to students and those community members that otherwise don’t have access.

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Grant PUD Releases Thank You Video

(April 3) Thank you to everyone helping to keep us going during this time! We appreciate all that you do!

Watch the video here.

OPALCO Update

(April 2) The OPALCO (Eastound, Wash.) crew is still at work keeping the power on, while practicing safety precautions.

On March 20, the board approved waiving late fees and has added funding to our payment assistance programs to support our membership. Through May 20, no one will be disconnected for an unpaid balance, but members are still responsible for paying their bills, eventually. For those in danger of unpaid bill balances building up, or businesses that have temporarily closed, please fill out a COVID-19 relief form and call us at (360) 376-3500 to set up a payment plan.

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Grays Harbor PUD Commissioners Update Emergency COVID Measures

(April 1) Just over three weeks after the Grays Harbor PUD (Aberdeen, Wash.) Board of Commissioners passed a resolution in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the utility is making adjustments to assist customers impacted by the virus.

On Wednesday, the board met in emergency session to pass a resolution which will give General Manager Dave Ward the authority to expand the use of the PUD’s existing assistance programs and practices. Thus far they have included the waiving of late fees, the use of donated Project Help dollars to assist customers, and delaying the disconnection of power on delinquent accounts. In addition, the utility has chosen to delay a projected 2% rate increase that was to have gone into effect on May 1st.

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Chelan PUD Commissioners Discuss Impacts of Coronavirus Crisis on Customer Owners, Employees, and District Operations

(March 31) Chelan County PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) commissioners on Monday spent considerable time talking about the implications of the coronavirus crisis for the District and directed staff to take the following actions:

  • Prepare a resolution to postpone the adopted rate increase that was scheduled to go into effect on June 1 for action at the next board meeting on April 13
  • Prepare to discuss on April 13 extending no shutoffs of utility service and waiving of late fees past April 27
  • Consider whether the PUD can do more to support residential and small business customers who are being negatively impacted by the coronavirus crisis

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Klickitat PUD Implements Strategies for Employee Health

(March 27) Klickitat PUD (Goldendale, Wash.) employees are still at work during the current health crisis. Ensuring that customers have access to electric, water, and wastewater services is a critical function not just now but going forward as well. Keeping these services available requires KPUD staff to remain healthy and able to work.

As new recommendations and requirements are released regarding COVID-19, Klickitat PUD continues to evaluate the best ways to keep employees safe and healthy. With that in mind, KPUD has developed work plans with employees that include telecommuting or modified work schedules for many positions. These plans are being implemented to make sure that the essential work KPUD employees do can be completed while reducing the potential for infection.

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SnoPUD to Temporarily Suspend Reading Meters Due to COVID

(March 27) With a focus on keeping its employees and customers safe during the COVID-19 outbreak, Snohomish County PUD (Everett, Wash.) has temporarily suspended reading meters and paused sending meter readers into the field. The delivery of critical power and water services remains unaffected.

As a result, PUD residential and small business customers may temporarily receive an estimated bill rather than one based on an accurate read. The PUD has made significant strides in recent years to improve its estimation accuracy. Estimated bills now draw on both prior usage patterns and known weather conditions to predict customer usage during the month their meter was not read.

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All Grant PUD Recreation Sites Closed until Further Notice

(March 26) Grant PUD (Ephrata, Wash.) has made the difficult decision to close all its parks, campsites, boat launches, and other recreation areas and facilities until further notice as an added measure to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

This latest measure is consistent with the March 25 announcement by Washington State Parks and the state departments of Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife to close all wildlife access areas, water access areas, parks, and recreational fishing statewide at least through April 8.

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Klickitat PUD Commissioners Approve Resolution for Customer Relief

(March 25) With the issuance of Proclamation 20-28 from Gov. Jay Inslee, Klickitat PUD (Goldendale, Wash.) has been directed to hold public meetings that are accessible to the public via telephone or other electronic means rather than as an in-person meeting.

This process had already been put in place with the KPUD commissioner meeting on March 24. Future KPUD commissioner meetings will be accessible in a similar manner.

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Grant PUD Announces Access Changes at Its Recreation Sites

(March 25) Select amenities at Grant PUD’s (Ephrata, Wash.) recreation areas are restricted from public use until further notice. This includes the closure of all restroom facilities, picnic shelters, playground equipment, and the golf course at Crescent Bar. Boat launches, trails, and day-use areas, including parking, will remain accessible to the public.

The closures follow Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order to slow the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.

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Benton PUD Continues to Provide Critical Service During Stay Home Stay Healthy Order

(March 25) During the Governor’s Stay Home Stay Healthy Order, Benton PUD (Kennewick, Wash.) will continue to provide customer service by phone and our operations team will continue to respond to outages 24/7.

Thanks to our strategic investments in technology and our ongoing commitment to plan and prepare for emergency situations of all kinds, Benton PUD is well-positioned to meet the challenge of current events. In accordance with our pandemic plan developed nearly 10 years ago, we have maximized our telecommuting capabilities to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our administrative and technical staff while still providing a high level of over-the-phone customer service. Our line crews, warehouse workers, and other essential operational staff are on rotating schedules to limit individual worker interactions and to help ensure we have a healthy workforce available at all times to respond to outages and to be responsive to new service connection requests.

To help provide customers some relief during these difficult and uncertain times, the Benton PUD Board of Commissioners has adopted temporary changes to our customer service policies. These changes, which apply to all customer classes, will be in place through the end of April and will be re-evaluated at that time.

Benton REA Maintains Electric, Internet Services During “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” Order

(March 25) In response to Governor Inslee’s “stay home, stay healthy” order for Washington state, Benton REA (Prosser, Wash.) is committed to the health and safety of its employees as well as maintaining electric and internet service for its members.

As an electricity distribution cooperative and communications/IT provider, Benton REA and PowerNET will remain in operation during the COVID-19 pandemic, since the services the co-op provides are considered to be critical infrastructure.

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Non-Essential Worker Status Change, Operations Continue at Energy Northwest 

(March 23) Energy Northwest (Richland, Wash.) CEO Brad Sawatzke told employees Monday that all non-essential workers are not to report for work on site effective tomorrow morning, Tuesday, March 24 as an evolution of the agency’s COVID-19 pandemic response measures.

Employees who previously volunteered to work from home should continue to do so, and those non-essential employees who are able to work from home should begin doing so tomorrow. The EN leadership team will evaluate conditions on a daily basis; however, the initial plan is for this arrangement to remain in effect until approximately April 6.

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Chelan PUD Asks for Patience in Responding to Customer Service Requests

(March 23) Chelan PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) employees want customers to know they do listen to voicemail. With most Customer Service employees telecommuting—in line with health experts’ advice—please do leave us a message if you get voicemail when calling in.

Customer Service employees are taking calls, checking messages, and will respond as quickly as possible, said Sarah DeLozier, Customer Service supervisor.

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Grays Harbor PUD Project Help Funds Aid Struggling Customers

(March 23) In a time of crisis, the willingness of a community to lend a hand is never more important. As the Grays Harbor PUD (Aberdeen, Wash.) helps customers in need cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is reminding its customers of an opportunity to help those struggling to pay their monthly power bill.

“For several years, the PUD’s customers have made donations to the Project Help program to help their neighbors and community members during difficult financial times. It is times like these that this assistance can really make a difference in our customer’s lives,” said Customer Service Director Katy Moore. “We want our customers to know how they may make donations so we can continue to help those in need.”

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SnoPUD’s Community Support Plan to Help Those Affected by COVID

(March 23) In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Snohomish County PUD (Everett, Wash.) has developed a COVID Community Support Plan to help customers struggling to pay their electric and water bills. The plan makes funds available for both residential and small business customers affected by the COVID outbreak.

“We know these are challenging times for some of our customers and we want to ensure that we are helping support those that need help,” said John Haarlow, Snohomish PUD CEO/GM. “We are all in this together and as a provider of a critical service we play an important role, one which we take seriously.”

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Trails, Boat Launches, and Restrooms in Chelan PUD Parks Are Open, but a Few Things Are Changing

(March 20) Chelan County PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) Parks Manager Ryan Baker said Friday that staff are making a few changes in operations to protect visitors and employees and to help reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

In the meantime, PUD-operated parks remain open including trails, boat launches, and restrooms, which are being cleaned more often to reduce health risks.

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Contact PUD Customer Service with Billing Concerns

(March 20) Keeping the lights on and providing customer service remain the priorities for the Grays Harbor PUD (Aberdeen, Wash.) as the utility adapts to the new reality of business amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

“Utility crews continue to maintain the PUD system and respond to outages and our customer service office has changed some practices but continue to work with our customers,” said General Manager Dave Ward. “The utility will adapt to this new reality and continue to provide the critical services our customers expect.”

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OPALCO Suspends Late Fees and Disconnects During COVID-19

(March 20) The OPALCO (Eastsound, Wash.) Board of Directors suspended late fees on member bills and service disconnects to support members affected by COVID-19 effective immediately and for the next 60 days. A full COVID-19 program is quickly being developed to ensure reliable power delivery in the islands as disruptions and human impacts multiply and to address longer-term challenges.

“OPALCO is doing all we can to help our membership,” said Foster Hildreth, general manager. “We’re working with our local organizations and on all levels (county, state, and the federal government), looking for additional resources to bring to our communities and ways to maximize the benefits to our members. The board has dedicated restricted funding to help our members through the pandemic.”

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No Disconnect of Utility Service for Chelan PUD Customers

(March 19) Chelan County PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) is taking more steps to help customer-owners manage financial and social impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. General Manager Steve Wright announced Thursday that there will be no power, water, or sewer service disconnects, and that late payment fees also will be waived until further notice.

Chelan PUD’s first priority is to keep delivering essential utility services, Wright said. That effort supports the work by other community leaders and public health experts to protect the community and help lower the risks faced by all.

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Customers Encouraged to Contact Grant PUD with Bill Concerns

(March 19) Grant PUD (Ephrata, Wash.) urges customers having difficulties paying their power bills to call its customer service line at (509) 766-2505 or email customerservice@gcpud.org.

By calling, customer service representatives will be able to discuss resources and options for assistance with bills.

“The worst thing a customer can do is avoid calling us when they are having difficulty paying their Grant PUD bill,” said Terry McKenzie, Grant PUD’s senior manager of Customer Service. “We want to work with our customers and help them, especially in this time when we know so many people are struggling.”

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Lewis County PUD Acts Swiftly to Issue $1.2M in Bill Relief

(March 18) In response to growing health and economic concerns due to COVID-19, the Lewis County PUD (Chehalis, Wash.) Board of Commissioners, comprised of Ben Kostick, Tim Cournyer, and Ed Rothlin, directed staff to reduce customer bills by up to $1.2 million.

Kostick said, “Our PUD is a community-driven organization. We’ve been tightening our belt and making strategic investments that allow us to offer this relief during a time when our customers need it most.”

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Grays Harbor PUD Board Passes Emergency Resolution

(March 17) The Grays Harbor PUD (Aberdeen, Wash.) Board of Commissioners has passed a resolution declaring a state of emergency as the utility deals with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The commissioners approved the resolution at a special board meeting on Tuesday that allows General Manager Dave Ward to take “appropriate and legal action to ensure the health and safety of utility employees and the public.”

“The goal of this resolution is to allow for swift and necessary action to protect utility staff and ensure our ability to provide critical utility services to the public,” said Board President Russ Skolrood. “The severity of the situation calls for the board to undertake unprecedented measures to ensure a safe environment, a healthy staff, and our ability to serve our customers.”

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Energy Northwest Announces Power Operations Continue Amid Challenging Times

(March 17) Energy Northwest (Richland, Wash.) continues to monitor the evolving COVID-19 developments that our community and nation are experiencing. Our first priority remains the safety and well-being of our employees and the public. We are following the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Washington state Department of Health and have a robust pandemic procedure in place. While we currently have no challenges to maintaining operations of our generating facilities, we are taking rigorous actions to ensure we continue to provide essential electricity to the region during this challenging time.

As of now, Energy Northwest non-essential employees are able to voluntarily telecommute as their jobs allow, and we have processes to keep them informed and productively engaged.

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Douglas PUD Facilities Closed to the Public

(March 17) In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, effective March 18, all Douglas PUD (East Wenatchee, Wash.) facilities will be closed to the public until further notice. Douglas PUD provides essential utility services to our community. We take our responsibility seriously and want to minimize possible exposure to our employees and customers.

The utility will maintain regular staffing and hours with customer service being provided through the drive-up, telephone communications, online, and mobile device access. Utility operations crews will continue field work and respond to power outages and will continue to make power restorations in the safest and quickest manner possible. The March 23 commission meeting will be conducted through conference call. Please see the Draft Agenda posted on our website the Friday before the meeting under Latest News for details.

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Chelan PUD Addressing Evolving Response to Coronavirus Issues

(March 17) Chelan County PUD (Wenatchee, Wash.) commissioners on Monday reviewed actions being taken to respond to the risk of coronavirus spreading in the community.

General Manager Steve Wright gave a detailed update on the steps being taken to protect customers and employees during the coronavirus pandemic. Following last week’s decision to close office lobbies and public meeting rooms, Wright outlined this week’s focus.

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Grant PUD to Close All Campgrounds until Further Notice

(March 17) Access to campsites at Grant PUD’s (Ephrata, Wash.) five campgrounds is closed until further notice as a precaution against the threat of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Grant PUD provides 20 recreation areas for the public along or near the Columbia River. Five of the utility’s recreation areas offer overnight camping for visitors.

The impacted recreation areas include Crescent Bar, Rocky Coulee, Sand Hollow, Priest Rapids Recreation Area, and the Jackson Creek Fish Camp.

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Okanogan PUD Offices Closed to Public until Further Notice

(March 16) Due to recent state declarations to minimize the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), the Okanogan County PUD (Okanogan, Wash.) offices will be closed to the public on March 17 until further notice.

We ask that customers use alternate methods of payment.

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Franklin PUD Taking Proactive Measures to Protect Customers from COVID-19

(March 13) Due to public health concerns regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) Franklin PUD (Pasco, Wash.) will close to the public. Franklin PUD provides an essential service to our community and recognize that keeping everyone healthy is important in the continuance of providing that service.

Beginning Tuesday, March 17, we will close our walk-in customer service area, including the use of our auditorium, to help minimize the health risks to customers and employees. Assistance by phone will still be available in both English and Spanish. Customers can call our customer service department at 509-547-5591.

For Health and Safety, Mason PUD 3 Closes Office Lobbies, Auditorium to the Public

(March 13) Following national, state, and local emergency declarations, Mason PUD 3 (Shelton, Wash.) is taking steps to protect customers and employees from potential exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

PUD 3 announced that beginning Monday, March 16 – out of concern for the health of the public and PUD employees – lobbies at the Johns Prairie Operations Center, Downtown Shelton Payment Center, and Belfair Payment Center will be closed to the public indefinitely. Staff will be available to conduct business over the phone, online, or via email.

Benton PUD Closes Facilities to the Public

(March 13) Due to concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), all Benton PUD facilities in Kennewick and Prosser, Wash., including our auditoriums, are now closed to the public. These closures will remain in effect until further notice.

We believe our actions are prudent and timely measures consistent with our commitment to protecting the health, safety, and well-being of our employees and customers. Closing our facilities to public access is one of the many steps Benton PUD is taking to make sure we continue to deliver vital electric and broadband services during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to assess the situation and adjust our operations accordingly.

Grays Harbor PUD to Close Customer Service, Energy Service Lobbies

(March 13) In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Grays Harbor PUD (Aberdeen, Wash.) has announced that it will close its Customer Service and Energy Services lobby to public access, effective Monday, March 16, at 8 a.m. The utility will maintain regular staffing and hours with customer service being provided though the drive-thru window, telephone communications, and online and mobile device access.

“The PUD provides a critical public service and we will continue to do so,” said General Manager Dave Ward. “By limiting face to face interactions, we are following CDC recommendations on how to limit the spread of the virus, while still serving our customers.”

Chelan PUD Closes Office Lobbies to Protect Customers and Employees

(March 12) Effective Friday, March 13, Chelan County PUD is closing public access to its office lobbies and other public entrances, until further notice as our community faces increasing impacts from COVID-19. The closure effects PUD offices in Chelan, Leavenworth, and Wenatchee, Wash.

Closing the lobbies and access to public meeting rooms and auditoriums is one of the many steps Chelan PUD is taking to make sure we continue to deliver vital electric, drinking water, sewer, and broadband internet services to customer-owners during the coronavirus pandemic. A number of community members have been tested locally for the coronavirus, and out of an abundance of caution, the lobby and auditorium closures are being implemented along with other Chelan PUD measures.

OPALCO Offices Close for Safety—Business Open

(March 12) OPALCO (Eastsound, Wash.) is closing its offices to the public on Monday, March 16, in order to help keep co-op staff healthy and its system running smoothly. All business services are available by telephone and online.

“We are open for business,” said General Manger Foster Hildreth. “We have a responsibility to protect our staff so that they can keep the lights on for the membership. We’re doing our part to keep essential infrastructure running and our membership safe as we wait out this pandemic.”

Franklin PUD Taking Proactive Measures to Protect Customers from COVID-19

(March 11) Recent public health concerns regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) are a top concern for Franklin PUD (Pasco, Wash.). Franklin PUD is monitoring information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding COVID-19, and is following federal, state, and local agency recommendations.

The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a pandemic. However, at this time, the Benton-Franklin Health District (BFHD) reports there are no positive cases in Benton or Franklin counties. Franklin PUD provides an essential service to our community and will continue to operate as normal until further notice. Should Franklin PUD be required to take additional action, Franklin PUD will notify customers promptly and follow the Business Continuity Plan that is in place to ensure services are provided to customers, while still ensuring employees and our community remain safe.

SnoPUD Public Offices Closed, Non-Essential Business Paused

(March 13) To protect the health and well-being of customers and employees, Snohomish County PUD has closed its offices, including its Headquarters building in downtown Everett, Wash., to all public access effective March 13 and paused non-essential business operations until further notice.

The PUD’s decision, which is in line with guidance from the World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control, and the Snohomish Health District, will not affect the essential services the PUD provides to its customers, including the reliable delivery of power and water.

“We are making this decision out of an abundance of caution for the public and our employees,” said John Haarlow, Snohomish County PUD CEO/GM. “We have a team that will continue to monitor the situation in order to make the best decisions possible as we move forward.”

SnoPUD Makes Changes to Operations to Protect Against COVID-19

(March 11) Following the county’s recommendation of limiting large gatherings, Snohomish County PUD (Everett, Wash.) has canceled all rental and complementary usage of public spaces at PUD locations, including the PUD Auditorium at the utility’s Headquarters in downtown Everett. The Headquarters and Community Offices in Stanwood, Arlington, Snohomish, Monroe and Lynnwood remain open for business for the time being, but customers are encouraged to conduct business with the PUD, when possible, online, over the phone at (425) 783-1000 or by email at customerservice@snopud.com.

The PUD has also canceled all upcoming public in-person outreach, including lessons in local schools by PUD Classroom Educators, scheduled events for its High-Voltage Demonstration Trailer and participation in public events such as the Home Show.

Grant PUD Workers Test Negative for COVID-19

(March 13) Grant PUD (Ephrata, Wash.) learned on Friday (March 13) afternoon that both workers, a contract worker and a regular employee, who were tested for COVID-19 Coronavirus have received negative results.

In light of this news, Grant PUD is consulting with Grant County Health District and developing a plan to have workers, who are not at a high risk of serious complications from the virus, report to their normal work locations on Tuesday. To continue to reduce risks of COVID-19, the utility will keep its facilities closed to the public until further notice.

Grant PUD General Manager Gives Update to Grant PUD’s Response to Coronavirus Threat

(March 11) Grant PUD’s Incident Command Team and I decided this week to take the prudent action of closing all Grant PUD facilities to the public. Until further notice, only Grant PUD employees required to provide on-site, mission-critical functions will report to their normal work locations. We are also taking the advice of public health officials to create work from home options where possible.

We’ve taken these measures to keep the public and our employees as safe as possible from the potential impacts of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

All Grant PUD Facilities Will Be Closed to the Public until Further Notice

(March 11) As a precautionary measure to protect the safety of customers and employees, all Grant PUD (Ephrata, Wash.) facilities will now be closed to public access until further notice. Only employees who are identified as mission-critical personnel in operating Grant PUD’s generating and power systems, as well as the fiber network, will report to work. All other employees, contractors and vendors are ordered not to report to their work locations until further notice.

Grant PUD has learned that one of its contracted employees has had direct and prolonged exposure to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 Coronavirus. This contracted employee recently came into direct contact with several of Grant PUD’s employees. Grant PUD believes that this is a prudent precautionary measure to protect public and employee safety and avoid possible power and fiber service interruptions.