Keeping the lights on and providing customer service remain the priorities for the Grays Harbor PUD as the utility adapts to the new reality of business amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
“Utility crews continue to maintain the PUD system and respond to outages and our customer service office has changed some practices but continue to work with our customers,” said General Manager Dave Ward. “The utility will adapt to this new reality and continue to provide the critical services our customers expect.”
The Grays Harbor PUD is encouraging customers to contact the utility Customer Service office if they feel they may have difficulty paying their monthly power bill due to the COVID-19. The utility has also announced that it will waive late charges on accounts that become past due in the months of March and April and postponed a scheduled rate increase.
“I can’t emphasize enough that if you fear that you may have trouble making a power payment, you should contact our office. Our staff is ready to help in this time of uncertainty,” said Customer Service Director Katy Moore.
Externally, the utility has closed its public lobbies and encouraged customers to use online (www.ghpud.org) or mobile apps (SmartHub) to pay utility bills. Those who wish to pay in person may use the Customer Service drive thru. The Customer Service staff is also available to answer questions over the phone at (360) 532-4220. Internally, the PUD has emphasized the practice of social distancing, regular hand washing and has allowed some employees to work from home when possible to reduce person to person contact.
The Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners have passed a resolution declaring a state of emergency as the utility deals with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The commissioners approved the resolution at a special board meeting on Tuesday that allows General Manager Dave Ward to take “appropriate and legal action to ensure the health and safety of utility employees and the public.”
“The goal of this resolution is to allow for swift and necessary action to protect utility staff and ensure our ability to provide critical utility services to the public,” said Board President Russ Skolrood. “The severity of the situation calls for the Board to undertake unprecedented measures to ensure a safe environment, a healthy staff and our ability to serve our customers.”
Under the resolution, the General Manager is authorized to declare a state of emergency and take action related to the COVID-19 threat. The Board will receive regular updates from the General Manager and will withdraw the emergency authority when the crisis situation has abated.
For the time being the utility will continue to offer customer service which encompasses the now common practice of social distancing. Public lobbies have been closed with customers now encouraged to use online or mobile devices to pay bills or use the Customer Service drive-thru window. Customers who encounter difficulty paying utility bills as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak are encouraged to contact Customer Service at (360) 532-4220. In addition, the Board has agreed to postpone a proposed 2% rate increase which was to have taken effect on May 1. The increase, driven by rising costs in the power market, will not be enacted until after the COVID-19 crisis has lessened.
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Grays Harbor PUD has announced that it will close its Customer Service and Energy Services lobby to public access, effective Monday, March 16 at 8:00 AM. The utility will maintain regular staffing and hours with customer service being provided through the drive thru window, telephone communications and online and mobile device access.
“The PUD provides a critical public service and we will continue to do so,” said General Manager Dave Ward. “By limiting face to face access, we are following CDC recommendations on how to limit the spread of the virus, while still serving our customers.”
Beginning Monday, customers wishing to speak to a customer service representative or to pay their utility bill will have the following options:
- Calling the Customer Service Department at (360) 532-4220 during regular business hours, Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm.
- Making the payment through the drive-thru window, located on the east side of the PUD’s Sumner Avenue Administration Building
- Dropping payments in the payment drop box located in the main parking lot of the Administration Building
- Making payments online at www.ghpud.org or using the SmartHub app on mobile devices
Customers wishing to speak with the Energy Services Department or learn more about offers through the department may do so by calling (360) 538-6383 or by clicking on the “Energy Savings” icon at www.ghpud.org.
Customers wishing to speak to the Engineering Department may call (360) 538-6524 to be connected to a Customer Service Engineer.
Utility operations crews will continue field work and respond to power outages and will continue to make power restorations in the safest and quickest manner possible.
The Grays Harbor PUD has taken measures to continue to provide essential utility services to customers, should the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in the county worsen. For the time being, utility operations will continue as usual with the Customer Service office and drive thru open from 8am-5pm on weekdays, however we do encourage customers to contact Customer Service by phone at (360) 532-4220 or use online/mobile access at www.ghpud.org when possible. Forms and utility information are also available online.
In the event of a worsening situation, the utility is considering methods to conduct customer interactions while respecting “social distancing” precautions. This may include exclusive use of the customer service drive thru window and payment drop box for onsite business. Customers may also continue to access account information and make payments using the SmartHub online system and the SmartHub app. Should you have any questions, please contact Customer Service at (360) 532-4220 during regular business hours, Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm.
Utility field operations will continue with crews responding to power outages and making restorations as safely and quickly as possible.
At this time, it is recommended customers follow 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
The Grays Harbor Public Utility District has released the following statement on the publication of the Columbia River System Operations Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS):
“The environmental impact statement released today contains thousands of pages of scientific data and will take time to thoroughly assess. However, a review of the Executive Summary finds that the statement rejects the potentially disastrous removal of the four Lower Snake River Dams and recognizes the vital role the dams play in Washington’s clean and reliable energy system. The Grays Harbor PUD looks forward to taking part in the EIS public comment period and helping to maintain the role Washington state has played in the area of clean, reliable and renewable energy.”