Klickitat Public Utility District has concerns about the impacts in the community due to the COVID-19 crisis and state mandated business closures. In the interest of public safety and regional economic stability, improving access to energy assistance those impacted by COVID-19 is a priority, according to a PUD press release.
Responding to a lack of energy assistance available specifically for small businesses, Klickitat PUD commissioners asked staff to work on a proposal to address that need.
In coordination with Klickitat County Economic Development (KCED), staff began to develop a COVID-19 Small Business Customer Assistance Program. Commissioners approved implementation of the program at their meeting on April 28.
The intent of the program is to take reasonable action to mitigate the economic impacts of the pandemic on small business utility customers. The program extends discounts to impacted small businesses depending on business type. The program is intended to encourage appropriate reopening of businesses that are struggling to keep the lights on due to this crisis, or have had to close their doors due to state mandates.
Klickitat PUD has partnered with KCED for the administration of the program. KCED is a local, familiar third party with the ability to take and review applications and provide recommendations regarding eligible businesses. Small businesses are the heart of a community and provide jobs and services needed for our day-to-day lives, KPUD officials noted.
Loss of small businesses would decrease the tax base upon which our rural communities rely for hospitals, schools, roads, and other infrastructure.
Eligible small businesses will receive a discount on their electric bill for three consecutive months upon reopening or being approved. Eligibility criteria include being in business as of Jan. 1, 2020, within Klickitat County; having between one and 10 employees; and having been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Agricultural producers do not qualify.
The discount percentage is dependent on the type of business. Store-front businesses are eligible for a usage discount of 50 percent and waiver of the monthly basic fee. Home-based businesses are eligible for a usage discount of 30 percent. To apply, complete the KCED survey at www.klickitatcounty.org/1193/Covid-19.