Submitted by Ocas Power and Light Co-op
The Ocas Power and Light Co-op Board of Directors suspended late fees on member bills and service disconnects to support members affected by COVID-19 effective immediately and for the next 60 days. A full COVID-19 program is quickly being developed to ensure reliable power delivery in the islands as disruptions and human impacts multiply and to address longer-term challenges.
“OPALCO is doing all we can to help our membership,” say Foster Hildreth, General Manager. “We’re working with our local organizations and on all levels: county, state and the federal government, looking for additional resources to bring to our communities and ways to maximize the benefits to our members. The Board has dedicated restricted funding to help our members through the pandemic.”
The COVID-19 measures approved yesterday apply to all co-op members who need it for the next 60 days. Members are still responsible for paying their bills; those who are struggling to keep up with their power bills because of COVID-19 disruptions should call OPALCO immediately to set up payment plans. Households who qualify as low income can apply for one or both of OPALCO’s energy assistance programs: learn more: .
For members who have extenuating circumstances such as loss of wages, illness or business closures, there will be additional temporary measures available very soon; measures will depend on emergency funding OPALCO can identify and access through county, state and federal organizations. Information is changing daily; OPALCO will report new measures as they are available through its website, email newsletter and social media channels. The COVID-19 program will be reassessed every 60 days as the situation evolves.
As a non-profit cooperative, OPALCO operates at the cost of service. The Co-op must find ways to help members reduce their energy expenses without adding to the cost of service (rates) for all members. OPALCO cannot afford to waive power bills for its members, but is working diligently to find ways to mitigate the impact to members and reduce the magnitude of unpaid bills that could occur over time with payment plans and any other funding relief the Co-op can qualify for.
OPALCO strongly encourages members to sign up for AutoPay and/or pay their bills through SmartHub (online) now that offices are closed. Payment drop boxes are still available at OPALCO’s office—please call ahead if you have no other option than to pay in cash.
OPALCO’s subsidiary Rock Island Communications has rapidly deployed internet connections to about 72 students in San Juan County so that they can participate in remote learning opportunities. The services are being provided free of charge for the duration of the school closures. Students who could benefit from Rock Island’s Access Education Program can get on the list through their school.
At press time, there are currently no known cases of Covid-19 in San Juan County, and OPALCO wants to keep it that way. OPALCO’s primary goal is safety: the safety of its members, board, staff and their families. Please stay safe and well, and stay engaged with OPALCO online at www.opalco.com, sign up for our newsletter www.opalco.com/newsroom/email-newsletter-sign-up/ and your co-op comments, questions and ideas at email@example.com.
If you have questions about the Covid-19 virus, we recommend the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html. San Juan County Health Department is regularly updating their information: https://www.sanjuanco.com/1668/2019-Novel-Coronavirus.
Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (OPALCO) is our member-owned cooperative electric utility, serving more than 11,000 members on 20 islands in San Juan County. OPALCO provides electricity that is 95 percent greenhouse-gas free and is generated predominantly by hydroelectric plants. OPALCO was founded in 1937. Follow OPALCO @OrcasPower on Facebook and Twitter.