PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County Public Utility District and Olympic Community Action Programs have been granted a combined total of $90,000 to assist with utility bills for struggling businesses and residents who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
Through Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, Jefferson County Public Utility District (PUD) was granted $40,000, while Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) was granted $50,000.
The PUD’s funds are available for its business customers who have outstanding balances of 60 days or more and attest to being negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic either financially, to their health or in other ways, said Jean Hall, PUD services director, in a press release.
Utility bills that the PUD can assist with include power, water and sewer, Hall said.
The struggling businesses can apply directly for funds via an online form at the PUD’s website, jeffpud.org, or by calling the customer service line at 360-385-5800 between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, she said.
Hall urges business customers to reach out to the PUD as soon as possible. A utility shut-off moratorium has been extended through April 30, but that is only for residential customers, not commercial, Hall said.
“Funding is available until it’s gone,” she said.
Since March, Hall and her team have worked with hundreds of PUD customers — both business and residential — to set up payment arrangements for past due balances, she said.
Though residential customers with balances of 90 days or more are not currently having services disconnected for non-pay, they will be at risk of shutoff once the moratorium ends, Hall said.
Hall urges PUD customers struggling to afford bills to contact the PUD right away and not to wait until the last minute.
“We have lots of tools to assist, but we can’t help unless customers reach out or respond to our offers,” she said.
OlyCAP was awarded $50,000 to help all Jefferson County residents negatively affected by COVID-19 with residential utility bills of any kind, including garbage or propane, said Executive Director Cherish Cronmiller in the press release.
“Jefferson County residents could have bills from Jefferson PUD, the city, or Mason or Clallam or Grays Harbor PUDs,” Cronmiller said. “OlyCAP can help eligible residents with past due bills from any of these utilities.”
OlyCAP asks that residents go to their website, olycap.org, or call 360-385-2571 to begin the process of applying for utility bill help, Cronmiller said.
OlyCAP also may be able to help eligible residents with services such as rent relief, home heating funding and housing services, Cronmiller said.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].