April 1, 2020
Fiber Extensions - Update 4-1-20
The PUD has received numerous inquiries regarding fiber line extensions. While we appreciate your interest, we would like to clarify that we will not be able to work through all of the fiber requests received, but will make it a priority to first address those with a specific need related to the pandemic – those who require an internet connection to work from home, support remote schooling, or for telemedicine needs. The requirements, cost, and feasibility to connect have not changed and are unique per site – the PUD is not offering connections free-of-charge and cannot guarantee service availability. We do advise that you contact your Retail Service Provider to ensure that they are able to respond to new service connection requests. Please feel free to call our customer service center as well to inquire further.
3-31-20 An update from the PUD with respect to COVID-19 precautions, our operations, and details about fiber line extensions
Events and circumstances continue to evolve on a day-by-day basis and given Governor Jay Inslee’s most recent proclamation, the PUD is considered an essential business and we are allowed to remain open and maintain operations while establishing and implementing social distancing and sanitation measures.
Virtually all of our 80+ employees are teleworking or working staggered shifts to promote appropriate social distancing and keep our employees and customers healthy and safe. We have closed all facilities to the public and limited the physical presence of employees at our main facilities to an average of three people or less at any given time. Those who are on site are practicing prudent sanitation by disinfecting before and after shifts. We continue to maintain service continuity and provide the essential utility services that you depend on, while also following the Governor’s order.
With respect to fiber line extensions, both our state and federal agencies have encouraged that we provide assistance to those who are being impacted by the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, primarily those who require an internet connection to be able to work from home, support remote schooling, or for telemedicine needs. If you fall into one of these categories, please contact our Customer Service Department and request a line extension and arrange to schedule an appointment.
It is still our goal to protect both the community and our employees by limiting potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus, thus we will evaluate each request on a case-by-case basis to determine both need and availability before deploying our crews. We also ask that you contact your Retail Service Provider to ensure that they are still responding to new service connection requests as each is operating under their own safety guidelines during this pandemic.
Thank you - we hope everyone stays healthy & safe.
3-27-20 Free Community Wi-Fi Hotspots are now available
In response to the current situation, the PUD has launched four free community Wi-Fi hot spots. We are hoping this will help bring connectivity to students and community members that otherwise don't have access.
The following locations currently have free Wi-Fi available using the Wi-Fi name: “POPUD_FREE WIFI INTERNET ACCESS”.
- Newport at the park across from the Post Office - 100 N. Washington.
- Ione across from the PUD warehouse at the corner of Central St. & Millyard Rd.
- Metaline Falls outside the Cutter Theater at 302 Park Street.
- Cusick at the park near City Hall at 1st Ave & Monumental Way.
A press release was issued yesterday, to read the full story, please use this link: Free Community Wi-Fi.
3-25-20 Next Board Meeting to be held via Teleconference ONLY
The PUD will be holding its next Board Meeting on Tuesday, March 31st. This meeting will be via teleconference only as in-person attendance is not permitted at this time in accordance with the Proclamation by the Governor (20-28 Open Public Meetings Act). We invite the public to attend the meeting remotely via conference line at (312) 757-3121 using Access Code: 942-299-869. The full agenda will be posted to our website this Friday and can be found here: https://popud.org/top-links/about-your-pud/commissioners-and-meetings/meeting-information/
This teleconferencing format will also apply to the PUD’s Board Meeting that is planned for April 14, 2020, as the proclamation is in effect through April 23, 2020. Thank you.
3-20-20 We are here with you ~
At the PUD, our doors may be closed to the public, but we are still here, fulfilling our commitments and serving our customers. As the impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold, it is affecting all of us – please know that we are here with you and are focused on continuing to meet your needs and deliver the level of service you have come to know and expect. We are maintaining appropriate staffing levels to deliver the vital electric, water and broadband services you depend on. We remain committed to managing through this together and thank you for your support and patience.
If you have questions or find yourself facing financial hardships, please reach out to our Customer Service Department at 509-447-3137. We want to work with you and help as best we can. Given that much of our staff is working remotely, don’t be surprised if you hear life going on in the background when you call.
We hope you enjoy this first weekend of Spring.
3-19-20 How safe is your drinking water?
Do you have questions about your drinking water and how safe it is to use? If you do, you are not alone and the PUD has some resources to share with you that may help alleviate concerns you have.
The most commonly asked question is “Can the COVID-19 virus spread through drinking water? The Center for Disease Control’s answer: “The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.”
In a statement released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently, the agency said: “The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies. Based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low. Americans can continue to use and drink water from their tap as usual. EPA has established regulations with treatment requirements for public water systems that prevent waterborne pathogens such as viruses from contaminating drinking water and wastewater.”
For more information and to locate answers to the below list of commonly asked questions, visit: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-drinking-water-and-wastewater.
3-18-20 Newport Drive-Through Window is Open
The Newport drive-through window remains open at this time. Currently, the drive-through window hours are Mon-Fri 8am-12pm & 1pm-5pm. In addition, our customer service representatives are answering calls and responding to voice messages as quickly as possible. Please keep in mind that they are operating at limited staffing levels - we thank you for your patience during this time.
3-17-20 PUD Taking Proactive Measures to Protect Customers & Employees from COVID-19
The below press release was issued March 17, 2020
Newport, WA – Public Utility District No. 1 of Pend Oreille County (PUD) is monitoring information from the Center for Disease Control regarding recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns and is taking proactive measures to protect its customers and employees. Given the fact that the World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a pandemic, it is critical that the PUD follow the guidance of the federals, state, and local agency recommendations.
Due to the highly contagious nature of this virus, all PUD facilities will be closed to the public effective immediately until further notice. That includes the PUD’s administrative office in Newport as well as the Box Canyon Visitor’s Center in Ione. The PUD is following its Emergency Response Plan to ensure that essential utility services are provided to customers.
At this time, customer service representatives will still be available to answer and return phone calls, provide account information, and accept payments via the Newport drive-through window. The PUD encourages customers to make payments from home using one of its several easy and convenient payment options including SmartHub, online through the website, or by utilizing the automated pay-by-phone system. Alternatively, you may also drop payments at either the Newport Administration building or Box Canyon facility drop boxes. In addition, payments can be made using the self-service kiosk at the Box Canyon Visitor’s Center.
The PUD will waive late payment fees for the months of March and April. Any household experiencing a financial hardship related to COVID-19 should call customer service to set up a payment arrangement for their utility account. Customers who communicate their situations with the PUD and keep their arrangements will not be subject to disconnection. The PUD is also working to increase funding to its “Neighbors in Need” program in order to provide additional assistance to those affected by this crisis.
“This is a difficult and uncertain time and we are doing the best we can to look out for the safety and well-being of our customers and employees while ensuring we deliver the services customers depend on. By taking these precautionary steps to limit interaction and practice social distancing, we are doing our part to stop the spread of this virus,” said Colin Willenbrock, the PUD’s General Manager. “We are aware of the hardship this pandemic is causing for many of you and hope this gives you piece of mind that we will continue to deliver your vital electric, water and broadband services.”
As the situation unfolds, you can check the PUD’s website for the latest updates and information at www.popud.org.
With respect to future meetings open to the public:
- The Town Hall and Board Meeting that were planned for Tuesday, March 31st, 2020, in Ione have been postponed.
- At this time, Commission Board Meetings (except that on March 31) will continue as scheduled and the PUD encourages the public to join via conference line at 509-447-9019 rather than attend in-person.
With respect to your services:
- The PUD’s field personnel stand ready to respond to outages and encourage customers to continue to report outages by calling 509-447-3137.
- The PUD will continue to accept line extension applications, but there may be a delay in scheduling.