The Okanogan County PUD board has suspended the May 1 rate increase and authorized staff to suspend disconnections due to non-payment, as well as work with customers to waive late fees and make payment arrangements.
The board met via teleconference March 23, with a phone-in option for the public as well.
The district declared a state of emergency in Resolution 1712 due to the COVID-19 virus, authorizing General Manager Steve Taylor to make decisions that provide for the safety of employees as well as serve customers. The district will work with customers on a case-by-case basis through customer service representatives, who are still available over the phone, even though the offices remain closed to the public.
“For anyone with outstanding debt to the district, please call us and let us help you,” Taylor said during the teleconference.
Resolution 1713 suspended the previously established 2 percent revenue increase May 1, until the board votes again to reinstate it.
Commissioner Scott Vejraska said he believed it was the right thing to do, and appreciates staff efforts to adjust their budgets and project timelines to make it work.
Commissioner Bill Colyar said the district needs to be sensitive to the ratepayers and put them at ease that “nobody is going to turn their power off” during an already difficult time.
Taylor added that while people are spending more time at home, they may see higher power usage and, therefore, higher bills. He encouraged all customers to take conservation measures.
The next board meeting will be Monday, March 30, at 3 p.m., and will be via teleconference again.