Sunday, October 17, 2021
Oct. 17, 2021

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Energy Adviser: Utility offers customers help for water, power bills

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When money’s tight, balancing your budget and keeping your bills paid can be a serious challenge. If you’re struggling to stay current with your utility bills, call Clark Public Utilities.

The Community Care (also known as ComCare) representatives at Clark Public Utilities are specially trained to help customers get the energy bill assistance they need — regardless of how they heat their homes.

“We help people in all sorts of circumstances — people who were doing fine until a sudden crisis turned their financial lives upside down, seniors who live on fixed incomes, people who lost hours at work — you name it, we’ve seen it,” said Clark Public Utilities Community Care Manager Chiharu Russell.

ComCare representatives work with eligible customers to match them with in-house assistance programs, and check if they qualify for other public assistance programs.

“Our utility knows how quickly bills can pile up, so we want to explore every avenue to find them assistance, which we often do,” Russell added.

No Clark Public Utilities customers are currently at risk of having their water or electricity shut off for nonpayment. The utility suspended disconnections of these services last year, well before the state enacted the shut-off moratorium in April 2020. But we do encourage you to call for assistance or to make arrangements now.

Income qualifications haven’t changed for any of assistance programs, but the timeframe used to determine eligibility for several has. The maximum benefit for several programs has also gone up.

In addition to helping customers pay home energy bills, the utility can help with emergency furnace repair or replacement, energy conservation guidance and resources, and offer referrals to our weatherization programs.

The Guarantee of Service Plan can get you back on track when you’ve fallen behind on your energy bills. The goal is to help eliminate built-up debt, reduce anxiety about past and future payments and make energy bills a manageable part of your budget. After successful completion of the program, any remaining account balance is forgiven.

The Senior Rate Credit program is available to households with at least one person 62 or older who meets the income eligibility limits. Due to the pandemic, the program offers an increased credit on the previous January through April electric heating bills. Upon qualification, the credit will be applied directly to the customer’s account.

The federally funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP is administrated by the utility on behalf of Clark County. It offers heating assistance regardless of a home’s heat type.

Unlike many other programs, LIHEAP doesn’t follow the calendar year, it runs from October to mid-summer. While the utility’s in-house heating assistance programs are for customers with electric heat systems, LIHEAP is “fuel blind” meaning Clark County residents can receive support no matter how they heat their homes. Enrollment begins in October. Appointments begin in mid-September, so mark your calendar to call and reserve your spot in a few weeks.

Operation Warm Heart is an income-based program built to help households experiencing a financial crisis. The entirely donation-supported program helps customers in need pay electric winter heating bills.

If you’re able, consider supporting others in the community with a one-time or monthly contribution. All donations to Operation Warm Heart go directly to families in need and may be tax-deductible.

Knowing that English isn’t the primary language of many customers, the utility offers interpretation services for a broad spectrum of languages.

To find out more about financial assistance, or to make a contribution to Operation Warm Heart, call our customer service department at 360-992-3000. Representatives are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Information is also available at clarkpublicutilities.com.


Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to ecod@clarkpud.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.

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