For people across the country, these are difficult times. The pandemic, the lockdown and the resulting downturn in the economy have left many people seeking help just to pay their bills. It can be overwhelming and confusing where to look for help.
To make it easier for its customers looking to find support, Snohomish County PUD recently made changes to its Income Qualified Assistance Program. These changes will ensure more customers get the help they need.
One simple change is the name of the program. What once was the PUD’s Low Income and Senior Low Income programs are both now under one name: the PUD’s Income Qualified Assistance Program.
The most significant improvements to the program focus on extending the reach of the program. In the past, the program was cut off for any customers who were above the threshold of 125% of Federal Poverty Guidelines. In Snohomish County, where the median income is higher than most, that can leave out many customers.
Under the new guidelines, the PUD’s Income Qualified Assistance Program will be available to all customers at or below 200% of FPG. That will allow the PUD to help about 20% of Snohomish County residents, an increase of nearly 10%.
For customers who qualify, the program will now have just two discount tiers instead of three. Income qualified customers who were receiving 20% discounts will now receive a 25% discount, while customers who were receiving 40% will now receive a 50% discount. (Note: The third tier under the former program, which provided customers a 60% discount rate, will decrease to 50%. That change will not occur until March 2021.)
This added accessibility is in addition to other changes the PUD made to the program in 2019. The PUD partnered with several housing providers and local assistance agencies to streamline the enrollment process, making it easier and faster for customers to get qualified. The PUD also provided free weatherization and energy efficiency kits for customers who qualify to help them lower their bill through conservation.
In addition to the Income Qualified Assistance Program, the PUD continues to offer bill credits to customers struggling to pay their electric and water bills. The PUD’s Community Support Plan makes funds available for residential and small business customers affected by the COVID outbreak.
For more information on changes to the PUD’s Income Qualified Assistance Program or the Community Support Plan, call 425-783-1000.
Operating since 1949, Snohomish County PUD is a customer-owned, not-for-profit electric and water utility that serves more than 360,000 customers in Snohomish County and Camano Island. For more information on conservation programs, visit www.snopud.com.