Frequently Asked Questions
Last Modified: November 14, 2018
- Do I have to pay a deposit to start a new account with EPUD?
- How do I sign up for new service?
- How do I know if I live in EPUD’s District?
- Why do I pay an electric system charge each month?
- What is the kWh usage charge?
- How do I read my bill?
- If I have been disconnected for non-payment, what will be required to turn my power back on?
- Who should I make the check out to?
- How can I pay my bill?
- What is paperless billing?
- How can I reach a customer service representative?
- How do I report a power outage?
- Why did my power go out?
- What should I do if my power goes out?
- What does EPUD do when there is a power outage?
- What steps does EPUD take to restore outages?
- We want to purchase a generator to use when the power is out. Does EPUD have any requirements pertaining to generator use during power outages?
- Do you have any “Green Power” programs?
- I’ve heard that underground line is much more reliable than overhead line. Has EPUD considered moving your lines to underground?
- I want to put a tool shed or some plants near my transformer box. What do I need to know?
- What is a P.U.D.?
- How do I request power to an unpowered site?
- I have always used regular incandescent light bulbs. Will compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) work in my light fixtures?
- What access to my property must I provide to EPUD employees?
Tree Trimming FAQs
- Why is it necessary to trim my trees?
- Do I have to give permission to trim my trees?
- How far from the powerlines will my trees be trimmed?
- How will my trees be trimmed?
- Is this a free service, or do I pay for tree trimming?
- What if I want my tree removed instead of just trimmed?
- How can I avoid having my trees trimmed?
- Can I request tree trimming?
- Can I trim my own trees around power lines?
Do I have to pay a deposit to start a new account with EPUD?
New EPUD customers are required to pay a deposit totaling two times the highest month’s charge at your new residence. For more information, including ways in which you can have a deposit waived, please call our Customer Service Department at 541-746-1583.
The best way to sign up for new service is to call us at 541-746-1583 during normal business hours. The sign-up process usually takes about 5 minutes. To help assist you when you call, please have the following information ready:
- Service address
- Desired service start date
- Full name(s) to appear on the account
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Driver’s license number
- Telephone number
- Email address (optional)
Contact us at 541-746-1583 or CustomerService@nullepud.org.
This is a fixed charge that covers a portion of EPUD costs occurring regardless of energy use. These costs are shared by all customers and include a portion of the cost of providing power (from the substation to the meter), billing, repayment of long-term debt, communications, and general administrative costs.
(Previously split into two separate charges – Distribution and Energy) Now combined for simplicity sake, this is EPUD’s actual cost to purchase power from Bonneville Power Administration as well as the actual cost of delivering power to your home. This includes the cost of maintenance on power lines and substations, tree trimming and other expenses.
CLICK HERE for a quick guide on how to read your bill.
You will need to call EPUD at 541-746-1583 to discuss the payment required in the form of cash, Visa/MC or money order. A reconnection fee of $25 will be charged if your power is restored on regular time or $200 if your power is restored on overtime.
While the official name of the utility is Emerald People’s Utility District, the bank will also accept checks that say “EPUD” or “Emerald PUD.”
EPUD offers many payment plans for your flexibility. We have an AutoPay option and an online payment option. You can also make a payment over the phone, and payment drop of stations are available at multiple locations including our main office. CLICK HERE for more information about our payment options.
Paperless billing allows you to receive and pay for your statement online. You receive notification of a new bill via email and follow the link provided to pay your bill. There is no postage and no paper usage. CLICK HERE for more information.
Call 541-746-1583 during regular business hours, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. We are closed Friday through Sundays except for emergency services.
Call us at 541-746-1583 anytime day or night, to report a power outage. You can also report an outage by logging into your account via SmartHub, Emerald’s payment and account management system. (Download the SmartHub app to access your account from your mobile device.)
We do our best to ensure you have as few service interruptions as possible, but sometimes weather conditions or car accidents cause the power to go out. If you would like to receive proactive outage alerts and updates to your cell phone or mobile device, FOLLOW US on Twitter. CLICK HERE for more outage information.
Power outages are most commonly caused by bad weather, trees contacting electric lines or equipment, motor vehicle accidents affecting electric equipment or facilities, equipment failure, or damage done by animals. Also, faulty wiring and equipment within your building can cause a localized power outage.
Check your fuses and circuit breakers. Make sure that everyone in your family knows where the breaker box is located and how to handle fuses and breakers. If this isn’t the source of the problem, CALL EMERALD at 541-746-1583. Turn off your electric water heater (usually the top left-hand circuit breaker) and unplug any solid-state electrical equipment (microwave, VCR, TV) so that it won’t be damaged by a power overload when the electricity comes back on. Turn on your porch light or other outside light so that when our crews are in the area they can more easily see which houses have power and which don’t. It also helps them know when and where the power is back on.
Once Emerald PUD is aware of the outage, an EPUD employee is immediately sent to patrol the outage area and identify the problem. The employee takes action to isolate the problem and restore power to as many customers as possible. Depending on the problem, a crew may have to be called to work on repairs. Outage lengths vary, depending on the severity of the problem. EPUD tries to change the front outage message to include all areas affected by outages within 30 minutes of first notification.
When a major power outage occurs, restoring electric service is often a complicated process. Damage to the utility’s electric distribution system that is caused by wind, ice, lighting, trees or other severe weather conditions usually is not isolated to one specific area. Under these conditions, EPUD’s primary objective is to get the power back on for everyone in the most systematic, efficient and safe manner. That’s why we use the TSDS system:
(T) Transmission lines,
(D) Distribution Lines
(S) Service Lines.
When a widespread power outage occurs, the first location that service crews check is the substation. The substation is the source from which all power is distributed. Service crews then start working their way out along the main distribution lines, or “feeders.” These main feeders are repaired first, followed by the lines serving groups of homes, and finally repairs at individual homes are made. To view a printable document detailing our Steps to Restoring Power CLICK HERE.
We plan to purchase a generator to use when the power is out. Does EPUD have any requirements pertaining to generator use during power outages?
Many customers are planning to purchase or already own a generator. Generators must be installed properly or they can back-feed through the service line to the distribution lines, causing a serious safety hazard for the crews restoring power, and your neighbors who may think the power lines are dead. Generators should be connected to the building’s electrical system using an approved transfer switch. The alternative is to plug selected appliances and equipment directly into the generator.
Yes, EPUD has green power programs of varying levels for both homes and businesses. CLICK HERE to learn more about your energy options as an EPUD customer.
I’ve heard that underground line is much more reliable than overhead line. Has EPUD considered changing its lines to underground?
Underground lines can be more reliable than overhead lines due to their inability to be compromised by trees, winds and other inclement weather. EPUD has moved some of the more problematic areas of our District to underground lines in order to bring the best service possible to our Customer-Owners. Moving all lines underground however is cost-prohibitive and is often not the correct action to take for other reasons as well. Following is a ROUGH estimate of the difference in costs between building overhead and underground line, based on the capacity of the line:
- Build new overhead: $28/ft
- Build new underground or convert overhead to underground: $50/ft
- Build new overhead: $30/ft
- Build new underground line: $125/ft+
In addition to these costs, there are add-in costs associated with flagging, special circumstances, etc., as it takes longer to build underground than overhead, which accentuates the difference in costs between overhead and underground.
It should also be noted that underground lines are not the perfect solution in all instances. It is problematic to read automated meters that are downstream of underground systems, and more importantly, underground lines severely limit our flexibility in operating and expanding the system.
EPUD makes the decision to install underground or overhead line based on what we feel is best for our Customer-Owners now and into the future.
I want to put a tool shed or plant some shrubs near my transformer. Are there any guidelines I need to follow?
When you make plans to landscape or make other changes in your yard, please remember these important points regarding EPUD equipment.
- Obstructing airflow can affect equipment cooling and cause damage.
- Obstructions can cause delays when restoring electric service.
- Do not paint EPUD equipment.
- Do not fence, landscape, or build any structures within 10 feet of the front and 3 feet from sides and back of EPUD equipment that would restrict access.
- EPUD will remove obstructions that impede work access.
If you are unsure if your landscaping plans will interfere with our equipment, give us a call at 541-746-1583.
A People’s Utility District is a not-for-profit business, existing only to provide reliable electric service at reasonable rates. Public power systems belong to the people they serve. In our community, the owners and users of our electric utility are the same. That means that your goals are also ours. There are no dividends to pay out-of-state stockholders, and all the benefits of our locally controlled electric utility remain here in this community. CLICK HERE for more information on Public Power.
This process starts with a call to our Engineering Department at 541-744-7491. CLICK HERE for full directions.
I have always used regular incandescent light bulbs. Will compact fluorescent bulbs work in my light fixtures?
In most cases, yes. Compact fluorescent screw-in bulbs come in a wide variety of sizes to fit most fixtures. But some may not fit because of the space restrictions of the fixture. Also, compact fluorescent bulbs will not function properly in fixtures with motion sensors or dimmers, unless they are special bulbs.
By law, if EPUD provides electric service to you, the utility has the right to enter your property to read and/or maintain its metering equipment without your permission. You are responsible for providing clear, unobstructed access to EPUD equipment for the installation, maintenance and removal of its property.
TREE TRIMMING FAQs
Many trees have grown up into or were planted too close to power lines. Outages and safety hazards can occur when trees are too near overhead conductors. Service interruptions caused by trees are serious and may affect many customers and cause damage to the electrical infrastructure.
Once we have identified that your trees need trimmed, you will be notified that tree trimming has been scheduled. Your permission is not required, because state law mandates that we maintain clearance and keep the power lines safe and hazard free.
The utility is legally required to maintain its facilities. Utility franchise, easements and rights of ways are often conveyed in the deed to a property. In addition, as a condition of electric service to your home, you must allow the PUD access for maintenance.
Many factors help determine the distance from the lines your trees will be trimmed. They include:
Growth rate of tree species
Voltage level of power line
Current distance of line to tree
(The minimum distance for most distribution voltage within the PUD system is 10’ tree-to conductor clearance.)
EPUD crews take care of trimming trees in our District. EPUD crews will trim trees according to American National Standards Institute A300 (ANSI) Pruning Standards. This trimming technique uses natural lateral or directional pruning methods which direct growth of the tree away from overhead conductors. This allows the tree to retain much of its natural form while requiring less trimming in the future.
Emerald PUD does not charge ratepayers for this service. We provide the tree trimming service to ensure that power is delivered safely, more reliably and at less cost to our ratepayers.
EPUD will remove trees that are interfering with overhead conductors or ground transformers. Since there are many factors that will determine whether or not a tree qualifies for removal, a site specific determination will be made by an EPUD representative.
The best way to avoid conflicts is to never plant trees underneath power lines. If you choose to plant trees near power lines, select trees with slow growth rates that have a short mature height and spread that will not interfere with nearby power lines. Click HERE to learn more about the types of trees you can plant.
Yes, if you feel your trees are too close to power lines, contact EPUD and we will inspect the site to determine if the trees should be trimmed immediately or when periodic maintenance is scheduled for your area.
NO! Serious injury or death can result when untrained homeowners attempt to trim trees around power lines. Only EPUD is allowed to trim trees interfering with the power lines.
Have a question not answered here? E-mail to TeamEmerald@nullepud.org and we will add it.