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Clark Public Utilities gives out $3.4M in aid

Utility works to help customers behind on bills due to pandemic

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

This month, Clark Public Utilities doled out $3.4 million to customers financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic who are 30 days or more past due on their utility payments.

The funds come from the utility’s $5 million Pandemic Relief Program that opened on Dec. 6.

Some $450,000 was distributed to customers on Dec. 6 alone, with $2.8 million distributed in the first week of the program. Now, a little over $1.6 million remains.

The funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and Clark Public Utilities representatives are encouraging eligible customers to apply as soon as possible.

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.

Utility Aid

The following levels show 225 percent of the federal poverty rate on an annual basis based on the number of persons per household, a key part of Clark Public Utilities’ Pandemic Relief Program.

Persons/ Annual household income

1 — $28,920

2 — $39,195

3 — $49,410

4 — $59,625

5 — $69,840

6 — $80,055

7 — $90,270

8 — $100,485

Eligible families can get a credit of up to $750 depending on the customer’s current account balance, and low-income customers who still owe after the $750 credit can get matching payments from the utility of up to $500 if payments are made within 60 days of receiving the credit or until funds run out.

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

The program was approved by the utility’s Board of Commissioners in October. The $5 million comes from surplus funds that were set aside for pandemic relief in March.

“We don’t want people to have to make a choice between putting food on the table, paying for their medication or paying their utility bill,” said customer experience manager Cameron Daline. “We want to make sure that customers that have been the most impacted get the most help that they possibly can.”

According to Daline, the program has made a big impact in customers’ lives.

“Our customer service reps have received letters about how this has been a huge help, especially around Christmastime,” he said. “We know our customers have suffered long-term impacts from this pandemic. Some customers in the beginning had trouble catching back up, and they still need help.”

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