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PWP Finalizes Plans to Resume Collecting Late Fees in July, Cutoffs in September Amid ‘Unsustainable’ Finances

Delinquencies grow by 500% during pandemic

Published on Monday, May 3, 2021 | 5:00 am
 

After suspending the collection of late fees and service shutoffs for nonpayment for more than a year, the Pasadena Water and Power Department plans to resume collecting late fees in July and cutting off service for nonpayment in September, according to the utility.

Among measures taken to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pasadena City Council suspended the collections and cutoffs in March 2020.

“As the dollar amount of unpaid utility bills continues to increase, it will become even more difficult for some customers to repay the amount owed,” PWP General Manager Gurcharan Bawa said in a letter to City Manager Steve Mermell.

“Additionally, the current high level of delinquent payments amounts has resulted in an unsustainable financial condition for PWP to continue providing reliable water and electric services,” Bawa wrote.

“PWP has delayed restarting these practices for as long as possible to provide continued support to customers through the earlier stages of economic recovery from the pandemic,” Bawa said.

“Unfortunately, the number of utility customers who are in delinquent status has increased more than five times from the levels that were experienced prior to the pandemic,” he said. “Furthermore, the number of customers and dollar amount of delinquent accounts continues to increase each month.”

The City Council authorized the PWP to reinstate fees and service shutoffs earlier this month.

Late fees on accounts will be reinstated on July 1, according to Bawa.

Commercial accounts will become eligible for shutoff due to nonpayment as of Sept. 7, while residential customers may see service cutoffs beginning Oct. 4, according to PWP Assistant General Manager Shari Thomas.

Along with the resumption of punitive actions against delinquent customers, PWP also planned to launch educational efforts to remind them to bring their accounts into good standing, Bawa said.

Several avenues of financial support are being offered, he added.

Customers who have suffered significant impacts from COVID-19 may qualify for 12-month payment plans, according to Bawa. Customers can apply for payment plans online at cityofpasadena.net/water-and-power/billassistance or by contacting PWP customer service at (626) 744-4005.

Bill assistance programs for qualifying customers and other forms of assistance will also be available, Gawa said.

More information is available on the Pasadena Water and Power website at cityofpasadena.net/water-and-power.

Related:

PWP to Resume Residential Utility Shut-Offs in October

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