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Oct. 16, 2021

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Clark Public Utilities’ $5M program to help low-income customers pay overdue bills

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

Clark Public Utilities commissioners approved a program Tuesday to spend $5 million of surplus funds to help erase low-income customers’ debts with the utility that they accumulated during the pandemic.

The program, Clark Public Utilities Pandemic Relief, will begin Dec. 1 and run through March 15, 2022. Customers who qualify must live in a family with a gross income less than 225 percent of the federal poverty level during any three-month period between March 2020 and the month prior to their application for benefits, according to a Clark Public Utilities news release on Tuesday.

That top income threshold would work out to $28,980 for an individual over a year, $39,195 for a two-person household, $49,410 for a three-person household, $59,625 for a four-person household, and $69,840 for a five-person household.

Customers with debts more than 30 days old are able to get a bill credit up to $750.

If the customer has remaining debt from the utilities account, Clark Public Utilities will also make matching payments of up to $500 for the customer or someone on their behalf.

“We have a long history of working with our customers to keep the lights on during times of crisis, and this new program continues that tradition,” said Clark Public Utilities spokesperson Dameon Pesanti. “With the statewide moratorium on utility disconnections having ended last month, we are looking ahead to enrolling eligible customers in our assistance programs so they can get their utility accounts back on track.”

Pesanti said about 35,656 residents have accounts that are beyond 30 days since payment was due.