Commission Meeting News

Hundreds get caught up on utility bills thanks to assistance programs

by Rachel Hansen | Jan 12, 2022

Customer Accounts Coordinator Pat O’Hara could tell by the customer’s voice on the phone, she and her family had fallen on hard times.

They lost an important source of income during the pandemic when the breadwinner resigned to take care of a sick loved one. With a deep sense of empathy, O’Hara listened to her story and offered some options.

He suggested she apply for energy assistance through the Community Action Network, a nonprofit that helps administer federal energy assistance and Chelan PUD’s Helping Hand fund. Ultimately, the customer qualified for federal assistance, which covered the family’s overdue balance.

The customer’s letter of thanks was shared with Chelan PUD commissioners Monday with the good news that more than 260 people who fell behind on their utility bills during the pandemic are now caught up. Collectively, past-due residential balances shrank from over $190,000 to $95,000. (Available on the board audio recording at 01:04:51).

“This letter nearly brought tears to my eyes because it was written from the heart,” said Commissioner Garry Arseneault. “Through the hard work of Customer Relations, they (the family) kept the heat on, the lights on, and the family was able to get past this very difficult time.”

Since March 2020, Community Action Network has awarded more than $651,000 in federal energy assistance for customers. Chelan PUD’s Helping Hand fund helped customers with over $76,000 in assistance since the pandemic began.

The good news also came with concern as a colder winter means higher energy use, and likely higher bills. The average daily temperature for Dec. 2021 was 28 degrees, which was about six degrees colder than the past three Decembers.

For customers who are concerned about their bill, the Customer Relations team takes pride in finding solutions tailored to a customer’s situation. Those options include payment plans, discounts, energy efficiency savings and more. Call Customer Relations team at (509) 661-8002.

Customers can also explore their options at or

In other business, commissioners:

  • Continued a public hearing regarding the proposed direct current fast charge rate until 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 24. (00:25:00)
  • Heard a quarterly Fish & Wildlife update, which reviewed adult fish returns at Rock Island in 2021, including the largest Coho return run on record. (00:51:00)
  • Heard an update about the impacts of severe winter weather last week. (01:39:00)

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