A Systems Operator works at a desk inside the Storm Center the Snohomish County PUD Operations Center on Nov. 14, 2018 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

A Systems Operator works at a desk inside the Storm Center the Snohomish County PUD Operations Center on Nov. 14, 2018 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

PUD won’t shut off power for late bills due to virus impact

The Snohomish Utility District said it wants to avoid additional burdens on those staying home from work.

EVERETT — The Snohomish County Public Utility District won’t disconnect power to households late on utility bills during the COVID-19 outbreak.

It’s an effort to ease financial impacts to those quarantined or who need to stay home from work.

“This is part of our response to the pandemic,” spokesperson Aaron Swaney said. “It’s just sort of a pause.”

Aside from times when temperatures drop below freezing, it’s the first time in recent history the district has put a halt to disconnecting homes.

The district generally sends teams out to shut off utilities to about 40 homes per day.

Customers typically receive a notice in the mail when their bill is past due.

Even while disconnects are paused, customers still need to pay their bills, Swaney said.

“We want to stress that people should really keep up with their payments,” he said.

The district is encouraging people to pay their bills online, rather than in person, to help prevent virus spread.

That can be done online at www.snopud.com or by calling 1-888-909-4628 (you will need your PUD account number, balance owed and payment method information).

“Working families and small businesses are facing economic insecurity,” County councilmember Megan Dunn said. “We have an economically vulnerable population who are either not able to work or should stay home. I’m thankful that the PUD recognizes that shutting off power during this crisis would put vulnerable populations more at risk.”

Government steps in

Local businesses are reporting financial troubles as officials call for social distancing and as more people avoid public spaces.

The state is offering help, from tax filing extensions to lists of local bankers, financial associations and major employers that may provide no-interest loans and other support.

If COVID-19 causes a mass layoff or closure, the state can respond with funding to help impacted workers get unemployment benefits and re-employment services. For more information, visit www.esd.wa.gov.

Those affected by COVID-19 also may have access to state financial assistance through unemployment benefits or paid family and medical leave.

Certification by a health care provider is required for applications for paid family and medical leave. To apply, visit paidleave.wa.gov.

Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; jgsanders@heraldnet.com.

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