EVERETT — PUD wants to give more of us a break.
A new Snohomish County Public Utility District program doubles the number of income-eligible customers paying less for power.
“There are about 11,500 customers currently in our discount program and we believe that’s about half who are actually eligible in the county,” said Jeff Feinberg, program delivery manager in customer and energy services. “Last year the average discount customer saved around $375 annually.”
Guidelines extend discounts to households at or below 200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines. For a family of four that would equal $52,400.
The former threshold was 125%. According to county statistics, about 20% of the utility’s customer base will qualify, which is about 50% more than under previous guidelines.
The utility’s new Income Qualified Assistance Program replaces its former Low Income and Senior Low Income programs. Changes went into effect July 1.
“It’s literally based on income and household size,” Feinberg said.
This is the third year in a row PUD hasn’t raised electric or water rates. The utility serves 352,000 electric customers and 20,000 water users in Snohomish County as well as on Camano Island in Island County.
The cost to fund the discount program is minimal.
“For every $100 a typical ratepayer would pay, roughly $1 of that went to help income-qualified customers,” Feinberg said.
If the program doubles in recipients, he said the jump for ratepayers would be from $1 to $2 at most for every $100.
The district has offered a rate discount since 1980. Feinberg said this new program better matches the economics of the county.
“We needed to broaden who we could reach with the rate discount,” he said.
The utility partnered with several assistance and housing services to streamline the application process.
“We can piggyback with other agencies that have already verified income and use that information to help get them qualified faster,” Feinberg said.
Applicants get a free energy and weatherization kit.
“The goal is to not only help them with their bill but help them with the energy efficiency of their home,” he said.
For more: www.snopud.com/discount or call 425-783-1000.