Port Townsend Rotarians to chip in to help pay utility bills with matching donation up to $20,000

Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — In anticipation of a cold winter, a Port Townsend service club has created a fund to support people who are unable to pay their electrical bills.

“Our club is moved by the level of need and proud to provide a one-to-one match for every dollar contributed to the fund by [Jefferson County] Public Utility District customers, up to the amount of $20,000, beginning Sept. 1,” said Rotary Club of Port Townsend President Karen Gose Clemens in a news release.

Many of the families traditionally accessing these funds are in crisis, facing a shutoff of their power and serious hardship during the cold winter months, the release said.

“This is a great program and a good opportunity for people who can't pay their bills to get some assistance,” said Bill Graham, PUD's resource manager.

On each bill, PUD customers have the option of checking a box that allocates $1 to the charitable fund, with Rotary supplying matches for each checked box.

The money raised is meant to replace some that was lost to the county when the Jefferson County PUD took over electrical service from Puget Sound Energy in March 2013.

Puget Sound Energy had provided funds to help people in need pay their bills.

When the PUD took over, 495 Jefferson County households — about 1,500 people — lost those funds, the Rotary Club said.

Olympic Community Action Programs will administer the program, initially screening applications for assistance eligibility.

OlyCAP also will continue to administer federal funds through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, with the average family receiving an award of $580 to help with high heating costs.

When that source reaches its limits, then the Power Boost Fund kicks in.

If these customers receive a shutoff notice, they can apply to OlyCAP for an additional $200 to help prevent a shutoff.

Rotary's grant is part of the club's annual community charitable program composed of funds generated by its annual auction, holiday wreath sales, county fair gate staffing and other volunteer efforts.

For more information, call 360-385-5800 or go to www.jeffpud.org.

Last modified: August 28. 2014 7:14PM
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