Payment Assistance Report Card
From January through July 2020, more than 16,000 TPU customers received more than $5 million in payment assistance funds.
Tacoma Public Utilities offers a variety of payment options and programs for customers who are struggling to pay their bill. These programs range from extended payment plans to discounts on services for seniors and customers receiving disability income.
This year, in response to the City of Tacoma’s COVID-19 State of Emergency, our Public Utility Board and Director approved reallocation of utility assistance funds to a new Emergency Assistance Program (EAP) in early March and voted to increase funding for that program to $2.4 million in April. The program was created to support customers experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic and expanded eligibility guidelines to support significantly more households. Qualifying customers receive a one-time credit based on the number of services they receive from TPU. The result was a record high number of applications for utility assistance.
Assistance by program and source
Our assistance programs are funded in part by utility budgets, federal funds, and private donations. This year so far, our EAP program was by far the most south after program, followed by the federal LIHEAP program.
- More about each program and source
EAP: The Emergency Assistance Program (EAP) was created to support customers experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. The EAP provides a one-time utility credit of up to $270 for eligible single-family households whose incomes are within 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines. This program is offered temporarily during the pandemic or until funds are expired.
LIHEAP: The U.S. federal government offers seasonal assistance through its Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). It is designed to help qualifying, low-income households meet their immediate home energy needs. The Metropolitan Development Council (MDC) administers the program for City of Tacoma residents, and Pierce County Human Services (PCHS) administers the program for Pierce County residents.
LIE: TPU and Environmental Services offer the Discount Rate Program (LIE), which provides a discount on utility services to income-eligible seniors or customers who receive disability income.
Private Agency: Funding that usually comes from religious organizations and nonprofits to assist specific people.
BCAP: TPU and Environmental Services offer the Bill Credit Assistance Program (BCAP), which provides an automatic bill credit to income-eligible households.
For more information on TPU’s payment assistance programs, click here.
Assistance by service type
Some assistance dollars are designated to a specific service (for example, Env. Services, which includes solid waste, waste water, and surface water), while some can be used for any and all services (listed below as “General Pledge”). The graph below shows the type of service, number of customers who received assistance for that service, and the total amount of funds provided.
Assistance by month
The graph below shows the amount of funds distributed each month in 2020 with service type color-coded for easy reference. The significant increase in April reflects the initial need during the height of the pandemic for the newly offered Emergency Assistance Program and its expanded eligibility guidelines.
How EAP grant per customer is calculated
For the Emergency Assistance Program created to help with the financial impacts of COVID-19, the amount of assistance provided is based on the number of services billed by TPU. Not all customers receive all five services. The number of services a customer receives from TPU depends on their type of housing and location.
- Grant calculations
The grant amount for each service and housing type is:
- Electricity – single-family home
- Electricity – multi-family building
- Drinking water
- Surface water
- Solid waste
For example, customers in the City of Tacoma receive all five services from TPU. If you live in a single-family home, and TPU bills you for electricity ($150), drinking water ($40), wastewater ($30), surface water ($10), and solid waste ($40), your total grant amount would be $270.
- Electricity – single-family home
Assistance by location
Tacoma Power and Tacoma Water also serve customers outside of the City of Tacoma. The graph below shows the communities where we provide services, the total number of customers in that community, the number of customers in that community who received assistance from us, and the total amount we distributed to that community.