Are you behind in utility payments? You could lose power if you don’t act now

SPOKANE, Wash.– If you’re behind paying your utilities, you need to act fast. The disconnection ban that’s been in place for over a year ends Sept. 30. Getting in touch with providers is the best way to ensure your power isn’t shut off.

“Help is available. We want to help,” said Ana Matthews, a Consumer Affairs Manager with AVISTA Utilities. “Please do give us a call.”

Around 13 percent of Washington families have unpaid balances with AVISTA — that’s about 30,000 people. Providers want to help their customers get back on their feet. Over $40 million is available in COVID relief funds for those who are struggling. Even though shutoffs can resume as normal, that isn’t AVISTA’s goal.

“Our biggest thing is we do not want our customers to experience an interruption in service,” Matthews said. “We’re doing everything we can to reach out to them.”

If you’re still struggling to make payments, AVISTA wants to help families sort out payment plans to prevent overwhelming tenants with debt. SNAP is distributing a lot of these funds

Carol Wentz, the Director of Community Action with SNAP, says they have enough money to take care of people. SNAP’s average grant distributed to families is $7,000. In Spokane County, SNAP gives out nearly $150,000 per week in rental assistance, alone. They’re helping people with rent assistance, as well as unpaid utilities.

“We can tie those in with this and help with that also,” she said.

Communication is key if you’re in a tough situation with landlords or utility providers. If you’re dealing with an eviction notice, respond to the landlord. This will stop the eviction process and start the process of getting you caught up with your payments.

Also, if you didn’t qualify for assistance before, check-in again with SNAP and AVISTA. For a lot of people, eligibility has widened, so more people can get help.

“If that was your experience, we really encourage you to get in touch with us, so we can make sure that you’re connected to that benefit,” Matthews said.

Accessing funds is simple, easy and efficient. You can go online or call SNAP at (509) 456-7627. To sort out a payment plan, call AVISTA at (800) 227-9181, or go online.

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