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News / Life / Clark County Life

Energy Adviser: Programs available to help with bill

By Clark Public Utilities
Published: February 3, 2024, 6:02am

Clark Public Utilities recently announced the first rate increase since 2011 and the average customer may see changes in electricity costs close to $15 per month. Customers who are struggling to pay utility bills are encouraged to call Clark Public Utilities right away to explore assistance programs and other ways to lower monthly energy costs.

There are several different types of assistance programs, each designed for customers in different life stages, living circumstances and financial situations. Current assistance options include programs for limited-income households with at least one person over the age of 62, programs for electrically heated homes with limited household incomes or those in financial crisis with incomes temporarily under the eligibility threshold, and federally funded heating assistance for customers with all heating types who meet income requirements.

The utility can also help customers determine if they’re eligible for programs offered by other utilities, including some water providers and homes that heat with natural gas, and can help households access additional benefits or forms of assistance when applicable.

Clark Public Utilities customers in need of utility bill assistance should call Customer Service. Local representatives are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 360-992-3000. Information is also available at clarkpublicutilities.com/assistance.

“Keeping homes safe and warm is essential and when a person is choosing to skip utility payments, there are often larger financial issues in the household and we want to help,” Clark Public Utilities Community Care Manager Chiharu Russell said. “We encourage our customers to call us before the crisis point when an account is overdue or has a growing past due balance so we can look for solutions to help them get back on track.”

Clark Public Utilities offers a variety of energy assistance programs, flexible payment arrangements and tools to make utility bills predictable and affordable. Specific program criteria and personal circumstances can change, so customers who may not have qualified in the past should call again or review current eligibility thresholds online to see what options are available.

Clark Public Utilities customer service representatives are trained to help customers right away and can help keep the lights on in just one phone call. Even if a customer may not be eligible for income-qualified programs, representatives can help with flexible payment arrangements and other account management options to make monthly bills more predictable and affordable.

If customers need further support, they may be connected with the specialists in the Community Care team, often called ComCare for short. Those utility employees are experts in helping qualifying customers sign up for Clark Public Utilities’ in-house assistance programs while also screening them for other programs they may qualify for — regardless of how their home is heated.

Because every household in Clark County is a customer of Clark Public Utilities, ComCare staff also evaluate customers for assistance programs provided by other utilities or administered by outside agencies. That means customers can come in for help with their utility bill, and may leave with access to more services and resources.

“Other agencies recognize us as a unique resource to connect the largest pool of potential candidates possible to assistance, in one location,” Russell said. “These partnerships lower the burden of time and paperwork required to access assistance for customers, and streamline the administration of these programs for the other participating utilities and agencies.”

Because nearly 16 percent of households speak a language other than English in Clark County, Clark Public Utilities offers interpretation services for a broad spectrum of languages. Customers can call and request an interpreter and utility staff will bring one on the line to continue the conversation. Interpreter services can also be arranged in advance for appointments with the ComCare team.

To find out more about current financial assistance programs and account management tools for yourself or someone else, call 360-992-3000 or visit clarkpublicutilities.com, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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.