Zoom Logo

LIHWAP Utilities' Focus Group - Shared screen with speaker view
Kim Anderson
16:17
KIm Anderson, Government Relations Manager, Sunrise Water Authority
Ariel Nelson
16:22
Ariel Nelson, League of Oregon Cities
Tracy Rainey
16:25
Tracy Rainey, Clean Water Services (Sr. Policy Analyst)
Jadea Bacchetti
16:33
Jadea Bacchetti, Utility Billing Manager City of Klamath Falls
Kathy Koch
16:35
Kathy Koch, Portland Water Bureau Customer Service Director
Nicole Stingh (she/her), OHCS
16:37
Nicole Stingh, OHCS
Serene Grant
16:37
Serene Grant, Clackamas County
Rachel King
16:39
Rachel King, Amity City Councilor, City of Amity Or
Scott Shearer
16:55
Scott Shearer, Oregon Public Utility Commission
Corbett White
17:03
Hello, I'm Corbett White and I'm the Financial Assistance Program Coordinator for the Portland Water Bureau.
Eric Noll (he/him), City of Portland
17:14
Eric Noll (he/him), State Government Relations, City of Portland
Sherri Peterson
17:42
Sherri Peterson, City of Portland, Bureau of Environmental Services (sewer/stormwater utility)
Rachel King
34:54
must answer all to submit?
Dan Elliott,OHCS(He/Him/His)
35:15
Please answer as all as best as you can
Rachel King
35:24
got it
Jadea Bacchetti
36:18
For later: Can the assistance be used towards a deposit?
Corbett White
37:19
Later: Is disconnection the only criteria for use of the crisis assistance?
Jadea Bacchetti
39:22
For example unexplained usage
Tracy Rainey
39:26
I think the moratorium question doesn't potentially reflect that many utilities voluntarily ceased disconnection during pandemic.
Chris Storey
40:36
On the disconnection question: wastewater providers, if not also the drinking water provider, do not disconnect service, as that can cause a public health issue.
Kathy Koch
43:33
In our experience, if you link assistance to a potential action like shut off then the customer will stack their bills until they are in danger of shut off . It doesn't incentivize them to pay until then.
Scott Shearer
44:36
A lot of the utilities the Commission regulates, are very small and run a "tight ship". These means that if a customer has gone more than 45 days past due they are disconnected. Since it is a short period it is general for an amount less than $150 (typically closer to $100). That seems to waste money paying, in essence, future usage. Thoughts?
Dan Elliott,OHCS(He/Him/His)
44:50
@KathyKoch: yes. we see experienced the same with energy bills.
Scott Shearer
45:04
Also, can customers qualify more than one time during a year?
Kim Anderson
47:26
Sunrise has established a low income assistance program in conjunction with Clackamas County Social Services. We pay them to administer the program. Any customer who qualifies for LIHEAP would qualify for Sunrise Assistance. The assistance is capped at $200 per 12 month period.
Ariel Nelson
47:48
is the assistance ceiling a hard cap or will the program allow exceptions? also share scott's question on if there will be a lifetime or annual cap
Corbett White
49:10
The Portland Water Bureau also bills for Sewer and Stormwater charges. Our sewer only customers are liened annually, will the crisis assistance be available to offset sewer only balances and decrease the eligible liened amounts?
Kim Anderson
49:17
Water utilities, by law, cannot utilize liens as a mechanism for collection. The law assumes that water has the ability to use shut offs as a lever to force action on the bills.
Corbett White
51:03
FYI, Within the City of Portland, the Water Bureau does bill most of our customers for water and sewer, however, there are the sewer only customers who receive water from Rockwood Water PUD.
Scott Shearer
53:26
What is the expected administrative burden on the utilities?
Sherri Peterson
55:45
Can OHCS (via OPUS) provide utilities energy customer information? We'd like to identify income eligible customers not yet participating in utility financial assistance and we'd like to focus financial assistance outreach for those most at risk. Will OHCS or CAAs lead marketing of the LIHWAP program?
Kim Anderson
01:00:27
Under our program, County social services qualifies the individual household. If they qualify, the county notifies Sunrise and our staff places a credit on their account.
Kim Anderson
01:04:44
Is the intent under this program really crisis payments or long term support of low income users.
Tracy Rainey
01:07:21
My apologies for having to leave a bit early. I have another meeting I need to attend at 10 am. Thank you all for the work on this!
Rachel King
01:07:42
For eligibility, are the 1 mth, 3 mth, and 1 year look-back for income guidelines established as the options that will move forward with the implementation of this program?
Jadea Bacchetti
01:12:50
Can the contract between vendor and provider be changed to include the frequency of payments? Like weekly?
Ariel Nelson
01:13:13
Apologies I have to jump to a 10am, thank you for this meeting and info!
Dan Elliott,OHCS(He/Him/His)
01:19:07
@JadeaBacchetti: it depends, but it can be negotiated.
Jadea Bacchetti
01:19:16
Perfect! Thanks!
Dan Elliott,OHCS(He/Him/His)
01:20:32
@RachelKing: Yes. So far we will stick with that practice. It has been successful---especially the flexibility needed during COVID and access to income docs.
Rachel King
01:23:22
Wonderful to hear. I just wanted to speak in favor of the importance of having that flexibility given fast changing situations and the necessity of water/sewer services!
Jadea Bacchetti
01:37:14
What you sent for this meeting was great!
Jadea Bacchetti
01:39:27
Myself/City Attorney
Kim Anderson
01:39:51
Low Income Assistance Program: I'm the program manager.
Rachel King
01:39:59
Michael Thomas, City Administrator, City of Amity
Corbett White
01:42:41
I'm the contact for the Portland Water Bureau.
Chris Storey
01:44:06
I am the contact for Clackamas Water Environment Services
Sherri Peterson
01:46:26
I administer IGAs and MOUs/MOAs related to sewer/stormwater service for City of Portland and will support Corbett White (Portland Water) on this vendor agreement.
Rachel King
01:48:25
Have all CAAs been contacted and informed of LIHWAP already?
Rachel King
01:50:56
That is my hope, an ongoing program for the future
Corbett White
01:51:13
I've met with our CAA contact, Courtney Keating and she has been instrumental in explaining how LIHEAP works and what to expect with LIHWAP. Thanks for all your work!
Kim Anderson
01:51:45
You have a monumental task ahead to get this established with rules and procedures in place in the time frame provided. The master metered accounts are a trouble spot for sure.
Scott Shearer
01:52:43
Thanks all! I know I throw a wrench with some of my questions, but hope to make this a good program going forward.
Rachel King
01:52:53
Thanks again for the State level work. Take away is more work to be done more questions to ask and answer!
Sherri Peterson
01:53:04
Vendor Agreements are key in establishing how utilities get financial assistance to renters without utility accounts. Thank you!
Chris Storey
01:53:21
We like mouthy : )
Jadea Bacchetti
01:53:25
key takeaway - you guys are getting it done!