Clallam PUD continues help for customers

Program focuses on past-due bills

CARLSBORG — Clallam County Public Utility District commissioners have affirmed the district’s customer support programs for COVID-19.

Commissioners voted 3-0 last week to pass a resolution affirming the district’s COVID-19 pandemic response, which includes a suspension of disconnections and late fees as well as a six-month extension on payment plans.

“Our staff has been, from the get-go, very active in monitoring the customers’ accounts that would have been subject to disconnect, and reaching out and contacting them in advance to set up a payment plan,” Communications Manger Nicole Clark told commissioners in a virtual meeting Monday.

The PUD has been making arrangements with customers who cannot afford to pay their utility bills.

Finance Manager-Treasurer Sean Worthington said about 1,400 customers were past due on their utility bills as of July 13.

“We’re proactively contacting all of our customers that are either 60 or 90 days past due currently, and we’re setting arrangements with them, a payment plan,” Worthington said.

“The idea is to go out no longer than four months with most customers. If we go out longer than four months, we’re going to start getting into the higher-bill months, and it will just be a perpetual problem for them to get caught up.”

The PUD has established a COVID-19 customer support web page at www.clallampud.net/covid-19-customer-support.

Commissioners were required to pass the resolution to comply with a state requirement, Clark said.

“We’re giving this overview as part of a public process and asking for the commission to affirm the things that we’ve already put into place and approving these actions in regards to this pandemic,” Clark said.

In other COVID-19-related discussion, commissioners signed a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee supporting the Washington Public Utility Districts Association’s effort to amend a proclamation to allow PUDs to continue to exercise local control for COVID-19 response.

A May proclamation from Inslee had identified the state Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) as the single point of contact for all customers.

“We felt that there was an overreach in that PUDs have local control,” Clark said.

“We’re governed by an elected board of commissioners. We’re not governed by the UTC.”

The letter asks the governor’s office to “recognize PUDs as the local subject matter experts leading the effort to mitigate the financial impacts of COVID-19.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at rollikainen@peninsula dailynews.com.

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