Canby Utility Offices Closed But Working During This Pandemic
Like all of you, Canby Utility has been adjusting to a drastically different environment since March 16 while continuing to fulfill its mission of providing electric service and drinking water for our community. Since this started, the utility has been closed for walk-in business to limit exposure to the COVID-19 virus. As of the date of this mailing of The Reporter, our offices remain closed for in-person customer interactions and only limited services are being provided during this time. Both customers and utility personnel are anxiously wondering— when will everything return to normal? It looks like it is going to be a while longer before Canby Utility can reopen its offices. The following is a review of what we have done so far and an update on where your utility stands today:
The President of the United States declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency on March 13, 2020. Oregon Governor Kate Brown followed with formal executive order No. 20-12, which designated certain businesses and government agencies as “essential” to Oregonians. Those businesses providing “essential services” were allowed to continue limited operations. Businesses and agencies that were deemed “non-essential” were ordered to close and “stay home, stay safe.”
Canby Utility is considered “essential” for providing electric and drinking water services. Still, under the Governor’s executive order it was necessary beginning March 16 to close Canby Utility’s offices to walk-in customers and to discontinue non-essential services that require utility personnel to interact with customers in close physical proximity. In compliance, Canby Utility began operating around-the-clock on an emergency basis, dispatching utility personnel only for a shortlist of “essential services.” Essential services have been limited to electrical outages, water main ruptures, major water leaks, unsafe conditions requiring service disconnection, and for a short-list of internal administrative tasks including utility billing, reviewing and answering phone messages, personnel timesheet processing, and payroll.
Sending out utility bills has continued during this closure following the regular billing schedule. Utility bills are still due and payable upon receipt. Alternatives to paying bills in-person have been available for Canby Utility customers for many years. Customers make payments for utility bills utilizing Canby Utility’s night drop at the combined service center located at 1265 SE Third Avenue, at the Cutsforth’s Thriftway payment drop site, through the mail, through bank bill-pay systems, and through our website. However, beginning March 16, Canby Utility also temporarily suspended delinquency and bill-payment-related disconnections due to the COVID-19 crisis. Additionally, Canby Utility does not assess fees for late payments. Canby Utility realizes the worry, stress, and financial hardships many of us are enduring as a direct result of this pandemic and the related shut-downs. It is very difficult to live under these unusual circumstances; it is anything but “normal.”
Before this pandemic struck us, Canby Utility helped customers who had temporary difficulties paying a monthly utility bill. And now during this pandemic, we will continue to work with our customers who become delinquent in paying utility bills. Customer service representatives stand ready to work out reasonable bill payment arrangements if needed. Bill payment arrangements are often granted based on circumstances. Canby Utility maintains a record of all previous bill payment arrangement terms and payment experience; this is the first criteria used in determining future bill payment arrangements. The point is, Canby Utility works with our customers who are in temporary financial difficulties and need additional time.
We deeply appreciate the cooperation and understanding our customers and our utility personnel have demonstrated during this first-time-ever global pandemic. This event has stretched comfort zones for all of us. Together we will get through this event and in all likelihood come out of it stronger and more united as a community!