Okanogan County PUD helps ratepayers keep the lights on

OKANOGAN – The Okanogan County PUD has been doing its part to help ratepayers affected economically by the COVID pandemic.

“More than half a million dollars in payment assistance has gone toward Okanogan County PUD bills in 2021, according to a report at the board’s Dec. 13 meeting,” wrote PUD public relations coordinator Sheila Corson. “In 2019, that number was just shy of $350,000, then in 2020 it was just over $360,000, according to information from Customer Service Supervisor Mindy Morris.”

The funds came from state, federal and other non-profit coffers, especially due to the pandemic.

Although many utilities are still struggling across the state to catch up on arrearages after the state lifted its moratorium on disconnects, extra efforts by PUD customer service in particular helped customers avoid large deficits. Morris said they have 17 long-term COVID payment arrangements for just over $8,000. Just under $4,000 is more than 90 days past due, better than in March 2020 when the pandemic began at nearly $6,000. Overall, customer relationships and connections are keeping past-due amounts better than normal.

More than $93,200 in late fees were not assessed from April 2020 to September 2021.
Commissioners commended staff efforts in keeping customers current and providing guidance to access assistance and set up payment arrangements.
In other business, the board:
    •    Approved the updated PUD district boundaries, required after the 2020 Census. The districts had only a few small changes in the Omak and Okanogan areas.
    •    Approved the PUD’s Clean Energy Implementation Plan, one of the required reports as part of the Clean Energy Transformation Act. It is available to be viewed on the PUD website.
    •    Heard an update about the 2022 hybrid legislative session from Jason Herbert of Energy Northwest, who will provide legislative support services for the PUD.
    •    Heard the annual dam safety training from Catrin Bryan of McMillen Jacobs Associates.
    •    Heard that as of November, wholesale power sales revenue was more than budgeted by $109,046; and as of October, retail power sales revenue was $1.1 million more than budgeted.
    •    Heard that the PUD has installed 105 new fiber connections this year – by far the most for any other year. Because of fiber supply issues, the PUD has had to prioritize projects as they wait for supply orders to come in. Along with wireless subscribers, there are now 3,796 total end users.
    •    Canceled the Dec. 27 board meeting, and scheduled future board meetings for Jan. 10 and 24; Feb. 14 and 28; and March 14 and 28.


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