News

  March 17, 2020

Benton PUD Available for Customer Assistance

 

Updated May 7, 2020 - Temporary Drive-In Wi-Fi Hotspots Launched
Benton PUD, in conjunction with NoaNet, has installed temporary "Drive-In Wi-Fi" hotspots in our community to help connect people in need of broadband access.  Check out a list of active hotspots in Kennewick.  Benton PUD also remains committed to offering a world-class wholesale broadband network that that brings numerous benefits including high-speed internet access to emergency responders, health-care providers, governments, schools, and libraries.

Updated April 30, 2020 (REVISED May 26, 2020) - Temporary Changes to Customer Billing Practices – EXTENDED 
Benton PUD commissioners recently approved an extension to temporarily suspend the following customer billing practices through June 14:

  • Assessment of the 1% late fee on past due balances
  • Disconnects for non-payment
  • Urgent Notices regarding past due balances 

As your local nonprofit public power utility, we ask that customers who can pay their monthly bill please continue to do so. This will help us maintain business continuity while providing flexibility to those most impacted by the pandemic. We understand many customers are experiencing financial hardship, so our Customer Service staff is available during regular business hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday at 509-582-2175 in Kennewick and 509-786-1841 in Prosser to answer questions and to discuss payment arrangements.  While customers are still obligated to pay for electricity they consume, we will be as flexible and as reasonable as possible with payment arrangements.  We are all in this together.
 
Updated April 20, 2020 – Community Assistance
Benton PUD partners with Community Action Connections in Pasco (CAC) to help those in need.  CAC will process your applications for our low-income discount programs or to receive assistance from Helping Hands.

In addition, CAC administers the Low Income Home Energy Program (LIHEAP) and the COVID Aid Special fund and disburses energy assistance directly to Benton PUD on behalf of eligible customers.   Because of the impacts on our community from efforts to control the spread of COVID 19, more customers may qualify for LIHEAP and COVID Aid energy assistance due to reductions in income.  

Here is additional information about these programs:

  • Benton PUD Low Income Discounts:  Benton PUD offers a 10%, 15% or 25% low-income discounts to qualified seniors, disabled customers and active military and veterans.  For eligibility requirements see our Payment Assistance page.
  • Benton PUD Helping Hands:  Benton PUD’s Helping Hands is available for qualified low-income customers.  Qualified customers may receive a $125-$225 payment voucher depending on family size.  For eligibility requirements see our Payment Assistance page.
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps low-income households with their home energy bills.  Funds are available through CAC.  For eligibility requirements see Community Action Connections website.
  • COVID Aid Special Fund:  Governor Inslee approved a temporary COVID aid special fund which is part of an expanded LIHEAP program.  The pledge amount for assistance is a flat $500 for those who are at 125% of FPL.  Income can be qualified based on one month’s documentation if the standard three month’s documentation.  For more information contact Community Action Connections.

Disaster Cash Assistance Program is Now Available

  • The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Disaster Cash Assistance Program (DCAP) is available to Washington residents regardless of citizenship status and does not require applicants to provide a Social Security number.
  • Eligible households will receive their DCAP benefits for one month in a 12-month period during an emergency. The benefit amount depends on household size, income and need, ranging from a maximum of $363 for a single person to a maximum of $1,121 for a household of eight or more people.
  • Once approved, customers will receive their DCAP benefits on an existing Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, card or a new EBT card will be sent via U.S. Mail. 
  • Customers can apply for DCAP online at WashingtonConnection.org and then call the DSHS Customer Service Contact Center at 877-501-2233 to complete the required interview. Customers can also call 877-501-2233 to complete the entire application process over the phone.   DSHS asks that customers call before 11 a.m. and to keep in mind that the busiest call times are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

You can also get connected to resources by calling 2-1-1 or going to their website - 211.org.  They offer help finding food, paying bills and other essential needs.

If you want to give to those in need – consider Round Up for Helping Hands.  You can round up your bill or choose a dollar amount to give to those who need help paying their bill.

Benton PUD asks that customers who can pay their monthly bill please continue to do so. This will help us maintain business continuity while providing flexibility to those most impacted by the pandemic. We understand many customers are experiencing financial hardship, so our Customer Service staff is available during regular business hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday at 509-582-2175 in Kennewick and 509-786-1841 in Prosser to discuss payment options.  While customers are still obligated to pay for electricity they consume, we will be as flexible and as reasonable as possible with payment arrangements.

Updated April 3, 2020 - Governor Inslee Extends the Stay Home Stay Healthy Order
Governor Inslee extended the Stay Home Stay Healthy Order through May 4.  During that time, Benton PUD  will continue to provide customer service by phone and our operations team will continue to respond to outages 24/7. 
 
Most non-essential employees who can telecommute are doing so.  This doesn’t mean we aren’t here to help you, to the contrary, we are and will continue to be here to serve as your trusted energy partner. 

  • Customer Service is available during regular business hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday at 509-582-2175 in Kennewick and 509-786-1841 in Prosser to discuss payment options.
    • Customer Service is unable to take credit card payments over the phone while they are telecommuting.  This is to ensure our customer's data receives the highest level of protection and to comply with credit card industry (PCI) payment standards.  Customer Service staff will transfer calls to our secure Pay-by-phone system so that customers can process their credit card payment.  Please see additional self-service payment methods below.
  • Energy Programs is available to provide energy tips or conservation assistance during regular business hours and can be reached at 509-582-1234
  • Line crews will continue to respond to outages 24/7.   Please report outages by calling 1-888-582-2176 or through SmartHub.

As a reminder, payments can be made by using one of our self-service methods, which are available 24/7.  You will need your account number to use all of the following, except the drop boxes:

  • SmartHub at BentonPUD.org or the SmartHubmobile app.
  • Pay Now at Benton PUD.org (enrollment is not required).
  • Pay by phone by calling 509-582-2175.  First time users will be required to create a 4-digit pin.
  • Payment kiosks at the entrances of the Kennewick and Prosser offices.
  • Drop boxes at the Kennewick and Prosser offices.

Updated March 31, 2020 (Revised May 5, 2020) - Response to Governor Inslee's Proclamation 20-28, Open Public Meetings Act & Public Records Act  
Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-28 temporarily prohibits in-person contacts with the public that are required by the Open Public Meetings Act.  It is effective from March 24, 2020 until the termination of the COVID-19 State of Emergency or May 31, 2020, whichever occurs first.  A conference call line will be set up for each commission meeting during this timeframe to allow remote public attendance.  We will continue to accept public comment at the beginning of each commission meeting as identified on our agendas.  The public can comment by attending a remote commission meeting, or by e-mailing us at commission@bentonpud.org.   During the duration of the Governor’s proclamation, matters of the agenda must be necessary and routine or necessary to respond to the outbreak and current public health emergency.  Commission meeting information can be found here.  Commission meeting packets are linked to the website no later than the Friday before the scheduled commission meeting. 

Due to Benton PUD’s temporary facility closure, customer requests for public records cannot be hand-carried and in-office review of public records is suspended.  The requirement to respond to a requestor within five days upon receipt of a public records request is also suspended.  We are implementing the following to continue to provide public records request opportunities:

  1. Benton PUD's public records officer and records management employees are available between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., remotely, Monday through Friday.

  2. Requests for public records can be sent by mail to Public Records Officer, Benton PUD, 2721 West 10th Avenue, Kennewick, Washington 99336; or e-mailed to records@bentonpud.org.  A link to the Benton PUD's public records form is located at www.bentonpud.org. You may also telephone (509) 582-1222 and leave a message.  Our Public Records Officer will return your call. 

  3. The District intends to respond to public records requests within the normal five day requirement, however our initial response may take up to 30 days.  Depending on the availability of the public record(s) being requested, confidentiality and exemption review requirements, and the location and accessibility of the records, the actual production of the records could minimally take 30 days or more.  We will work with each requestor on a production date.  We will continue to process public records requests in the most expedient manner while working remotely.

Future developments may change as this issue continues and this notice will be updated accordingly.  Click here to access the Benton PUD’s Public Records page for more information.

Updated March 27, 2020 - Meter Reading & Billing Practices
Benton PUD has received questions about our meter reading and billing practices during the response to COVID-19.  We want to assure our customers that bills are being generated based on actual meter reads, not estimated meter reads.  Over 10 years ago, Benton PUD installed advanced meters.  In addition to the ability to obtain actual meter reads for monthly billing, the advanced meters have improved electric system performance, customer service and operational efficiency. Other benefits include the ability for our customers to view their daily usage information, receive faster reconnects/disconnects, select their bill due date, and have increased customer privacy as a result of Benton PUD not needing to access customer property to read the meter. 

During these challenging times we encourage customers to monitor their hourly, daily or monthly usage in SmartHub to see how little changes may affect overall usage. Customers can also see what they can expect on their next bill. 

If you have specific questions about your account, usage or need assistance with payment options, please contact Customer Service at 509-582-2175 during normal business hours.  Our Customer Service Representatives are here to help.

Updated March 25, 2020 - Response to Governor Inslee's Stay Home Stay Healthy Order
During the Governor’s Stay Home Stay Healthy Order, Benton PUD  will continue to provide customer service by phone and our operations team will continue to respond to outages 24/7. 
 
Most non-essential employees who can telecommute are doing so.  This doesn’t mean we aren’t here to help you, to the contrary, we are and will continue to be here to serve as your trusted energy partner. 

  • Customer Service is available during regular business hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday at 509-582-2175 in Kennewick and 509-786-1841 in Prosser to discuss payment options.
  • Energy Programs is available to provide energy tips or conservation assistance during regular business hours and can be reached at 509-582-1234
  • Line crews will continue to respond to outages 24/7.   Please report outages by calling 1-888-582-2176 or through SmartHub.
As a reminder, payments can be made by using one of our self-service methods, which are available 24/7.  You will need your account number to use all of the following, except the drop boxes:
  • SmartHub at BentonPUD.org or the SmartHubmobile app.
  • Pay Now at Benton PUD.org (enrollment is not required).
  • Pay by Phone by calling 509-582-2175.  First time users will be required to create a 4-digit pin.
  • Payment kiosks at the entrances of the Kennewick and Prosser offices.
  • Drop boxes at the Kennewick and Prosser offices.

Updated March 19, 2020 - Temporary Changes to Customer Billing Practices 
Benton PUD recognizes our community is facing unprecedented impacts from actions being taken to combat COVID-19.   To provide some relief and certainty to our customers in these very uncertain times, we are suspending the following actions through the end of April:

  • Assessment of the 1% late fee on past due balances
  • Disconnects for non-payment
  • Urgent Notices regarding past due balances 

We urge our customers to call Customer Service during regular business hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday at 509-582-2175 in Kennewick and 509-786-1841 in Prosser to discuss payment options.    It is our goal to work with our customers and offer support and assistance during these challenging times.   We are all in this together.
 
Posted March 17, 2020 - Customer Assistance Available During COVID-19
While the Kennewick and Prosser lobbies and drive thrus are closed to the public, we will continue to offer our customers the following methods to conduct business with Benton PUD:

  • Payments can be made by:
    • Using one of our self-service methods, which are available 24/7.  You will need your account number to use all of the following, except the drop boxes:
      • SmartHub at BentonPUD.org or the SmartHubmobile app.
      • Pay Now at Benton PUD.org (enrollment is not required).
      • Pay by Phone by calling 509-582-2175.  First time users will be required to create a 4-digit pin.
      • Payment kiosks at the entrances of the Kennewick and Prosser offices.
      • Drop boxes at the Kennewick and Prosser offices.
    • Contacting Customer Service during regular business hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday at 509-582-2175 in Kennewick and 509-786-1841 in Prosser.
    • Using a Check Free location (a fee may be assessed).
  • Customer Service staff is available by phone to respond to account and billing questions, to start or stop service, or to make payment arrangements. 
  • Energy Programs staff is available to provide energy tips or conservation assistance and can be reached at 509-582-1234
  • Line crews will continue to respond to outages 24/7.   Please report outages by calling 1-888-582-2176 or through SmartHub.

Benton PUD is monitoring information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding COVID-19 and following federal, state, and local agency recommendations.  We are also collaborating with local agencies including the Benton-Franklin Health District.  At this time, it is recommended you take the same measures you would to prevent the spread of a cold or the flu by following CDC recommendations such as:

  • Stay home when you’re sick
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • ​Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects
  • Follow social distancing protocols and avoid people who are sick