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Paperless billing proving popular – and secure – with Chelan County PUD customers

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Paperless billing proving popular – and secure – with Chelan County PUD customers

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May 9, 2012

(Wenatchee, WA) About 4,300 of Chelan PUD’s 48,000 customers have signed up for Powerpay, the District’s paperless billing option, since the online system debuted in July, Kerri Wendell, customer information administrator, told PUD commissioners Monday. Enrollments exceeded the District’s one-year goal six months ahead of schedule, said Wendell.

Bill printing and mailing was moved to an outside firm in March 2011, which reduced costs from 76 cents to 51 cents to produce a paper bill. In July, the paperless billing option debuted. Customers who choose paperless billing help the District save even more, reducing the billing cost per customer to 16 cents, savings that help control costs and ultimately keep rates in check.

Wendell said the trend continues of customers choosing electronic payment over paying by check. There’s even been a slight decrease in the number of PUD customers paying in person.

Using an outside firm to handle bill payment has the additional benefit of better protection for customer’s credit and bank card information, added Scot Erickson, Customer Accounting/Meter Reader supervisor. The PUD no longer keeps that information, Erickson said in his report on steps the PUD takes to prevent theft of customer information. Federal law requires the PUD to protect customer information from potential identity thieves and report yearly on PUD efforts. Erickson said there were no reports last year of identity theft involving information from the PUD.

In other business Monday, commissioners:

  • Heard from Chief Financial/Risk Officer Kelly Boyd that first quarter financial results came in slightly below budget, but that the forecast for above-average runoff and continuing efforts to contain costs have the PUD on track to finish the year with a positive bottom line slightly ahead of the $72.5 million budgeted.
  • Received an update from Kirk Hudson, Generation and Transmission managing director, on the steps planned to respond to concerns about the level of Lake Chelan raised at community meetings in October and February. Letters will be going out this week to about 6,000 Chelan Valley residents with answers to questions posed at the meetings and in emails and letters. PUD staff is also meeting with other agencies to gauge response to proposals to bring the level of the lake up earlier in the spring and keep it up longer in the fall. A statistically valid survey is also planned to extend outreach to Lake Chelan residents who may not have attended the meetings, and possibly to customers across the county since generation at the Lake Chelan Hydro Project serves all customer-owners. “We are taking it seriously to see what we might do to meet the needs of customers who are asking for changes,” added General Manager John Janney. A careful approach is needed, Janney added, to make sure any changes are beneficial.

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