A press release from Puget Sound Energy.
As Washington’s utility shut-off moratorium expires, Puget Sound Energy is engaging with customers in need, offering financial assistance options, extended payment plans and warning them of potential payment scams. With many families still struggling financially due to COVID-19, PSE is connecting customers with outstanding balances to information and resources that will help them pay their utility bills and avoid a shut-off.
“We understand that this has been a challenging time for our customers and our communities, and we have stood by our commitment to continue maintaining services to everyone who needs it,” said PSE President and CEO Mary Kipp. “With the moratorium ending, we are reaching out to customers and offering help through financial assistance and arranging payment plans to help them get back on track.”
When a customer falls behind on their utility payment, PSE reaches out to develop a collaborative solution that fits their needs, with the goal of ultimately avoiding a shut-off. This includes making customers aware of all financial assistance programs and helping set up extended payment plans. In addition to reaching out to customers directly, PSE partners with non-profit community organizations that serve low-income and historically underrepresented groups, making customers aware of financial alternatives and helping them access assistance. PSE also conducts public information campaigns using social media and placing notifications in community publications in multiple languages.
PSE has offered energy assistance to income-qualified customers throughout the pandemic. In addition to existing energy assistance programs, Home Energy Lifeline Program (HELP) and Warm Home Fund, PSE created specific COVID-Bill Assistance Programs in 2020 and 2021 providing an additional $30.1 million in assistance funds to help customers with their past due bills. Since the beginning of the pandemic, all PSE programs have provided approximately $56 million in total assistance to more than 95,880 customers.
Residential and small commercial customers may also enroll in extended payment plans that allow up to 18 months to pay past due balances. Reconnection fees, security deposits and late payment fees are waived for 180 days after the end of the moratorium. More about how customers can get help with their utility bills is available at PSE.com
Consumer Payment Scams
PSE is warning all of its customers about a rise in scammers and con artists targeting utility consumers by posing as utility representatives and demanding immediate payment of an “overdue” bill to avoid disconnection of their energy service. PSE never asks or requires customers who have delinquent accounts to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection. Customers with outstanding balances receive multiple notifications by mail and over the phone prior to having any action taken on their account. More information about avoiding consumer scams is available at www.PSE.com/scamalert