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Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024

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Clark Public Utilities opens assistance program for families struggling with utility bills

By , Columbian staff writer

Clark Public Utilities will open a new assistance program Monday for families struggling to pay their electric bills. The program will distribute $5 million of relief until the funds are all given away or until March 15, 2022.

The program was approved by the utility’s Board of Commissioners in October, although the money — consisting of surplus funds — had been allocated in March. At that time, the board decided to set aside the money for a planned pandemic relief program.

“We are owned by our customers. We exist to take care of our customers and provide them with service. We’re a community partner; we’re not just an energy company or a water company,” customer experience manager Cameron Daline said.

He added that the utility aims to be a good community partner.

“They are our neighbors and our friends and our community,” Daline said.

In order to qualify for the relief program, a household’s gross income had to have been less than 225 percent of the federal poverty level, on average, for any three months between March of last year and the month before the family submits its application. The months don’t have to be consecutive.

The utility knows customers are still in need because it still has customers with past-due accounts and it gathers income information for customer surveys and census data.

Eligible families who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, and who have an account balance more than 30 days past due, can get a credit of up to $750, depending on the customer’s current account balance.

Low-income customers who still owe after the $750 credit can get matching payments from the utility of up to $500, as long as payments are made within 60 days of receiving the credit or until funds run out.

Customers wanting to apply for the relief program can use their MyAccount at ClarkPublicUtilities.com or call customer service at 360-992-3000.