Billing and payment confusion leads to lights out for Port Ludlow woman

by: Chris Legeros Updated:

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PORT LUDLOW, Wash. —

When the lights went out Monday in Robin Singleton's Port Ludlow home, she was angry. It was the first time she ever had her power shut off.

"It was 40 degrees in the home. We had no water and no hope for getting it turned back on," said Singleton.

She'd just paid a bill Friday to Public Utility District 1 of Jefferson County for $136. That's what the online payment system indicated she owed in total. She didn't pay much attention to the $313 listed on the bill itself, because the bill arrived late and she said she already paid a couple of hundred dollars last month.

"I didn't think I owed any more than what I had paid," said Singleton.

PUD #1 is a water and sewer utility that just took 19,000 electric customers from Puget Sound Energy in April. The PUD admits on its website that it's still having trouble getting bills out on time. Some of them are arriving just a couple of days before they're due.

 "We're either doing fixes or just trying to feel our way forward to make it happen properly," said PUD Manager Jim Parker.

 The online payment system still needs work. While it gives customers the option to pay more, it only tells them what's currently due, not past due. Parker said the utility is working to clear up confusion. He said customers are given plenty of warnings when their accounts are past due. They include a written late notice, an automated phone message and a card that is placed on a customer's door.

"We don't want to turn people off, that's not the goal here," said Parker.

Singleton said she'll be much more attentive to her utility bills in the future. She had to scramble to come up with another $177 to get her lights back on.

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