MYNORTHWEST NEWS

If you haven’t paid your electric bill, you may hear from a collection agency

May 17, 2024, 5:19 PM | Updated: May 18, 2024, 6:39 pm

Puget Sound Energy crews work on a powerline....

Puget Sound Energy crews work on a powerline. (Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Energy)

(Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Energy)

If you haven’t paid your electric bill for a while, you may get a call from a collection agency. Puget Sound Energy (PSE) stopped using bill collection agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the utility recently got permission from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission to resume its collections processes, according to a news release from PSE.

The company may reach out to customers with a balance above $250 that is more than 90 days overdue. To do so, PSE reported it must have over-the-phone or written communication to customers that include information about bill assistance, payment management and other programs. It will also refer customers to local agencies for help with their bills.

The news release also stated that if a customer doesn’t take action with PSE or local agencies within 30 days of communication, the company may put the customer on a phased debt collection plan.

More from PSE: Could Puget Sound Energy customers soon lose access to natural gas service?

According to PSE, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approved collection after a significant amount of unpaid bills. As of October of last year, the company reported a total of $140 million in unpaid, overdue balances.

However, PSE noted the overdue balances that occurred during the pandemic, from March 2020 to December 2021, will not be recovered from customers. Instead, PSE may cover the costs in its rates.

The news release stated that the commission expects, “PSE and all other utilities to prioritize principles of energy justice, afford meaningful opportunities for public participation and conduct thorough equity analyses when developing credit and collections policies that could disproportionately harm already vulnerable populations.”

Achieving equitable access to essential utility services is a vital public interest that must be central to our regulation of customer arrearages, disconnections, and affordability programs. While this order allows a limited resumption of the dunning process, our work to advance energy justice and equitable utility practices is far from complete,” it continued.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X here and email her here.

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If you haven’t paid your electric bill, you may hear from a collection agency