The city on Thursday confirmed that modest rebate checks to electric customers will start going out in the next week or so and reach all eligible recipients within four to five weeks – the result of a plan passed by the City Council earlier this week to help boost the reeling local economy during the coronavirus crisis.
The rebates apply to both residential and commercial electric customers of Pasadena Water and Power.
“Checks will start to go out in as early as two weeks (from this past Monday, when the council approved the action),” said city spokesperson Lisa Derderian. “We expect to get them all issued within four to five weeks.’’
In a news release Thursday, City Manager Steve Mermell said, “These efforts are some of the many ways in which the city is working to minimize the financial burden to the Pasadena community during the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“Providing direct rebates will be the fastest way to ensure that every electric customer receives some financial relief.’’
The council on Monday unanimously approved the plan, which will provide PWP’s estimated 67,500 electric customers, plus eligible former customers, with a total of $11.4 million in rebates, along with another $2 million in suspended utility fees for six months.
The rebate money will come from the city’s “underground surtax” fund, which is made up of fees that customers are charged to support the construction of underground utility lines.
Under the plan, customers will receive rebates equal to their last 24 months of surtax-fee payments, or about $11.4 million in total.
Additionally, the underground-surtax fees – roughly 4 percent of a typical electric bill — have been suspended for six months, keeping an estimated $2 million in the pockets of customers.
The rebate checks would range from about $103 for a typical residential electric user to about $3,200 for a medium-size restaurant to about $29,000 for heavy-usage customers such as hotels, according to city estimates.
Current PWP customers will not need to apply for the rebates – they will come automatically over the coming weeks, the city said.
Former customers from within the last two years who no longer have a PWP account “will receive information on how to apply for their refund if their new address is known,’’ the city said in a statement.
According to Mermell, the underground surtax fund was identified as a source of financial relief to residents because its balance “is well in excess of what our identified project needs are.’’
“This is largely due to various constraints impacting the number of projects that can be undertaken at any one time,’’ according to a city staff report.
Mermell said the money taken from the surtax fund is better used for immediate needs rather than sitting idle, awaiting future projects.
He also said that Pasadena, with its own utility, is in a unique position among area cities to provide such rebates because the city has its own utility.
The council had previously suspended shutoffs and late fees for delinquent PWP payments, among other economic relief efforts during the COVID-19 crisis.
The council has also passed a residential and commercial renter-eviction moratorium; suspended penalties and fees for late payment on garbage pickup; and modified various parking and impound rules.
Information on additional benefits for low-income PWP customers and people who rely on medical devices is available at www.PWPweb.com/COVID19.