Responding to the Coronavirus

 Responding to the Coronavirus

As a community-owned utility, the health and safety of our customers and employees is a top priority to continue to deliver reliable service.

As a result, we have implemented several operational changes in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Customer Billing/Shutoffs

We have suspended the disconnection of services due to non-payment until further notice.

We understand some customers may be facing unusual financial hardship at this time, and we're dedicated to supporting them in the best way possible.

It is very important for customers who receive a past due notice or are struggling to pay their bill to call us at 448-4800 to discuss how we can help.

We are offering a Skip a Payment program in response to the current circumstances. Customers can make arrangements to skip a payment by calling 719-448-4800 or through online chat in My Account. The amount of that payment will be added to future bills.

Facility closures

Our facilities are closed to the public until further notice, including our downtown Customer Service Center. Customers may call 448-4800 for assistance or use online methods to make payments.

While our Conservation and Environmental Center on Mesa Road is closed, our customers may continue to access the outdoor water-wise demonstration garden.

All tours, presentations and other events are canceled.   

Project COPE & other customer assistance

Project COPE provides utilities payment assistance to families and individuals struggling financially due to a personal crisis or emergency, regardless of income. It is the only local organization that dedicates its entire funding to utilities payment assistance year-round.

Effective immediately, the following temporary changes to Project COPE apply to customers impacted by income loss due to COVID-19.

  • Customers may receive a second Project COPE assistance within a 12-month period as long as the initial assistance was prior to March 2020.
  • Through June 30, assistance may be increased from $500 to $600.

All customers seeking utilities assistance should contact Pikes Peak United Way’s 2-1-1 for the best referral to an available COPE agency.

LEAP, a federally-funded assistance program, has extended the application deadline to August 31 or until funds are exhausted. Income guidelines apply, but customers who have not qualified in the past should look again as income guidelines changed this year.

Service reliability

We are taking proactive steps to help prevent employee illness so they can continue to operate our power plants and water treatment facilities central to our daily lives and necessary in helping slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Our non-essential employees are working remotely to limit their risk of exposure and help slow down the spread of coronavirus in our community.

We will continue to respond to service emergencies - like water main breaks or electric outages - as usual.

Employee on-site living began March 30. We are also implementing rotations to ensure social distancing. Facilities and trailers will be cleaned prior to new crews occupying space. This two-team rotation allows us to keep two teams in reserve. Employees will self-isolate at home during their time off.

Utilities Board meetings

Utilities Board meetings will be conducted electronically or telephonically. While customer comments will be permitted, we encourage the public to view the live-stream of the meeting online. 

Utilities Board meets remotely on Mondays at 8 a.m. for COVID-19 updates.

Field worker safety

Protective gear is used when we have to enter the premise to do essential service work like respond to a gas leak, carbon monoxide alarm or another safety situation. We have a very limited supply of protective gear and continue to do the best we can with our resources to keep our employees and customers safe.

Project COPE donations

Please consider making a donation to Project COPE so those customers who aren’t able to pay their bills during the coronavirus crisis can get the relief they need. All donations are tax deductible and matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000.

Water quality

Drinking water continues to be safe for Colorado Springs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and American Water Works Association (AWWA), coronavirus is not transmitted through drinking water. The disinfection systems at our treatment plants are equipped to stop viruses from contaminating drinking water and wastewater.

We’re continuing with our proactive water testing. We operate our water lab 365 days a year, collecting and analyzing more than 12,000 samples annually. Many operations have remote control capabilities that we are using. As an example, we’re using online water quality monitoring panels throughout our distribution system, adding another layer of protection for our employees and customers.

Wastewater

Alternatives to toilet paper, including “disposable wipes,” paper towels, facial tissue and other paper products should not be flushed in toilets. Most of these products were not designed to be flushed down the toilet, do not break down like toilet paper, and can cause issues, including costly and unsanitary wastewater back-ups into customer homes and businesses.

Don’t fall for scams

Scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus outbreak to send fraudulent emails, texts and social media posts. Beware of scams asking for personal information or immediate payment, and never click on suspicious links or attachments. If you question communications related to your utility services, please contact us.

Financial/Utilities use

Our overall customer energy and water demand for March was down less than 5%, compared to the same time period last year. We aren’t expecting a significant change to residential energy use this month because use typically declines this time of year. Natural light is increasing and use of heating and cooling systems usually declines with more favorable outdoor temperatures.

With the mandates to stay home and increase cleaning/sanitation practices, residential water use may increase. As temperatures rise and more customers begin spring landscaping projects and prepare for irrigation season, residential water use is expected to increase. 

We’re reducing spending to meet only critical needs for the remainder of 2020. We’ve identified capital projects that can be deferred and/or rescheduled.

Natural gas rates decreased May 1. We pass along changes in energy costs directly on to our customers through periodic cost adjustments. Energy costs are variable and driven by price fluctuations in the coal, natural gas and purchase power markets.. 

  • $3.03 (1.4%) per month for the sample residential customer.
  • 4.8% per month for the sample commercial customer.
  • 1.6% per month for the sample industrial customer.