Avista has launched a new COVID Debt Relief program for low income residential customers in Oregon and Washington hardest hit by the pandemic. Since the program began on April 1, more than $4.3 million in automatic grants have been applied to 7,100 customer accounts. Average benefit amounts range from $425-$650.
In compliance with the Utilities Commissions in both states, Avista established the Debt Relief Program to identify and manage residential customer past due balances associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible customers will have their past due balances paid off.
A specially-trained team of Avista customer service representatives is proactively reaching out to customers using multiple channels. Recognizing that many customers are struggling to make ends meet, Avista wants to ensure that they are aware of the assistance and payment options available to them. The goal of this outreach campaign is to connect with 100% of Avista customers who are 60-90+ days past due on their bill in both Oregon and Washington. Phone calls, emails and field visits are being used to ensure contact is made with more than 12,000 customers.
Avista is also partnering with local food banks, faith-based organizations, community networks, tribes and other local agencies to connect with hard-to-reach communities to ensure awareness of assistance options. The Debt Relief Program is funded through rate recovery plans approved by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission and the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. The program runs through September 30, 2022, or until all the allocated funds have been depleted.
The Idaho Utilities Commission has directed their COVID relief efforts toward rental and energy assistance programs. If you’re an Idaho resident and would like to know more, visit their website.