May 19, 2017 – The Public Utilities Division (PUD) in Jefferson County is seeing fewer people than expected enrolling in its low-income assistance program.
PUD Manager Jim Parker said that 509 households had enrolled in the program as of Friday. That’s out of an estimated 2,000 households that are eligible in Jefferson County, according to a study done by the PUD’s citizen advisory board.
“We expected more,” Parker said. “The weather is getting nicer so people aren’t thinking about it as much. I expected 700 by now.”
The program, which took effect in late March after a unanimous vote by PUD commissioners, allows low-income seniors and PUD customers with disabilities to apply for either a $20 or $35 per month discount on their utility costs.
The PUD’s citizen advisory board recommended the low-income program expansion last year. The program changes the definition of low-income from 100 percent of the federal poverty level to 125 percent. This is consistent with the income eligibility standards for LIHEAP in the state of Washington. Households that already qualify for LIHEAP automatically qualify for the $35 per month discount.
According to Parker, the PUD chose to have the local LIHEAP agency, the Olympic Community Action Program, process applications and promote the program, because the agency already has access to many of the people who qualify and is a well-known source for low-income assistance programs in Jefferson County.