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PUD officials come to listen


They came to listen and understand what has some Grand Coulee and Electric City customers upset enough to start a petition.

Grant County PUD officials held a listening session and dialogue with people at last Thursday’s Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce meeting at Siam Palace.

They heard plenty of opinions on less access at the local PUD office, which is open twice a week, including from Lonna Bussert, who had put out petitions for better customer service after spending lots of time on the phone not getting help.

Public Affairs Officer Ryan Holterhoff, Senior Manager Customer Solutions Terry McKenzie and Taffy Courteau spoke to concerns.

The PUD changed local hours and took out a drop-off box at about the same time they contracted with the city of Grand Coulee to accept PUD payments at that office.

People noted that a drop box is easier for “mobility challenged” customers to get to, rather than parking a car and walking up to a drop box on the front of city hall.

McKenzie said the local office is scheduled to be open on Wednesdays and Fridays, but isn’t always, depending on staffing ability. Birdie Hensley said a local employee who lives here is being sent elsewhere in the county, and that the local office sometimes has to be staffed from Ephrata.

Courteau said that had to do with union restrictions for use of “on-call” employees and limited staff.

McKenzie said the changes were made in the fall of 2017, but now the PUD is hearing of the need for a drop box, which is also problematic since the PUD is required by law to apply payments to customer accounts “timely.” Possible solutions were discussed.

McKenzie said closing the local office had been discussed at one time, but Holterhoff said the discussion and feelings of those at the meeting would be taken back for discussion at the PUD.

George Kohout offered another suggestion, contending PUD leaders would shut the local office and service position after local workers retire: “If you’re going to keep cutting our service, then lower our rates.”


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