Billing / Payment / Assistance

I was gone for two weeks last month. Why didn’t my bill go down?

This is a very confusing situation. The fact is, an empty house can consume as much energy as a full one. An empty house kept at 55 degrees will not use much less energy than an occupied house kept at 68 degrees. Clothes drying, cooking, baths and even body heat all contribute heat energy.

Why is my bill so high? My neighbor’s bill is $25 per month less than mine.

It could be due to differences in electric lifestyles. Your neighbor’s home may have fewer occupants, less square footage or more insulation.  Click on The Top-Five-Energy-Users article to read how to most effectively lower your energy use and costs.  Also, for a free online analysis of your home’s energy efficiency and an estimate of how much you might save by upgrading, try our home energy use calculator.

Does Peninsula Light offer a budget payment plan?

No. However, you are allowed to create and manage your own budget payment plan using our online automatic payment system. Be sure to watch your actual balance due on your bill to ensure that your budget amount is correct for the amount of energy you use.

What other payment options do I have?

You can pay in person at our business office at 13315 Goodnough Drive NW Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  We have a drive-up window open the same hours.  There is also a drop box at the drive-up window for after-hours payments.

Do you know where I can get help paying my electric bill?

Yes. During heating season (November through April) we sponsor Project Help, a community funded energy assistance program for local low-income residents. We can also supply you with other agency phone numbers.

I am set up with auto payments. How do I stop getting paper statements?

Click on Manage Account and log in or register to log into your account. Identify the account you want to make paperless and click on My Profile and then Paperless Options. Select Yes and hit Save Changes.

When will my account be billed?

We have four billing cycles depending on the substation you are fed from. Week one = Gig Harbor,  Week two = Narrows and Artondale,  Week three = Minter, Lodholm and Purdy, Week four = Vaughn and Lakebay.

Conservation

What is Green Power?

“Green Power” is generated from the renewable resources of the wind, water and sun. When these resources are used to generate electricity, we get power that is clean and kind to the environment. This is called renewable energy.

What is the difference between energy efficiency and energy conservation?

Energy efficiency is “using less energy to provide the same service.”
The best way to understand this idea is through examples:

  • When you replace a single pane window in your house with an energy-efficient one, the new window prevents heat from escaping in the winter, so you save energy by using your furnace or electric heater less while still staying comfortable. In the summer, efficient windows keep the heat out, so the air conditioner does not run as often and you save electricity.
  • When you replace an appliance, such as a refrigerator or clothes washer, or office equipment, such as a computer or printer, with a more energy-efficient model, the new equipment provides the same service but uses less energy. This saves you money on your energy bill.
  • Energy efficiency is not energy conservation.

Energy conservation is reducing or going without a service to save energy. For example:

  • Turning off a light.
  • Replacing an incandescent lamp with a compact fluorescent lamp, which uses much less energy to produce the same amount of light.

Both efficiency and conservation can save you money and reduce the amount of energy Peninsula Light Company must purchase for its members. (See our Rebate Programs for Energy Efficiency products for homes and businesses.)

General

I want to request a street light for my road, who do I talk to?

Contact PenLight’s Engineering department at 253- 857-1547 or email carrie@penlight.org.

I would like to request a cable locate.

Peninsula Light Company subcontracts the locating of our underground power lines. In order for the contractor to be notified that a cable locate is needed, customers must call the Utilities Underground Location Center (also known as Call Before You Dig) at 811. This is a free service to our customers, but state law requires two business days notice (48 hours).

Locates can be requested for our underground power lines and for the power source feeding a customer’s residence to the customer’s house. Peninsula Light Company does not provide locates beyond the customer’s primary residence.

Why are my lights flickering?

If you notice that your lights are going bright and then dim, turn your main breaker off and call our Member Services at 253-857-5950 for further assistance.

I only have partial power, what do I do?

If you notice that you’re having problems with your appliances (microwave, oven, TV or furnaces are the most common), or you’ve lost power to part of your house, turn your main breaker off and call our Member Services at 253-857-5950 for further assistance.

My trees are getting close to the power lines, can I get them trimmed?

Trees are trimmed so they do not interrupt safe, reliable service to customers. During normal tree-maintenance operations, trees are trimmed so they will not interrupt normal service within 3 to 4 years. Trees under the power lines such as locust, cherry and maple are removed when they’re young because they are fast growers and do not make the normal trim cycle.

Can I trim my own trees away from the power lines?

No. Federal law states that, in order to do any work within 10 feet of any energized primary power lines, you must be line-clearance qualified.

I have a tree that is leaning toward the power lines. Will you remove it for me?

Peninsula Light Company’s contracted tree crews trim and remove trees within the 10-foot radius of the power lines. If a homeowner needs to remove a tree that is outside the 10-foot area, a determination will be made by the Staff Certified Arborist on a safe removal plan. Most trees outside the 10-foot area can be safely removed by a qualified tree service. If not, a line drop may be necessary.

Can I receive wood chips from the tree crews?

Yes. Presently, there is a high demand for wood chips to be left on homeowners’ properties. You can ask to be put on a permanent chip list so that every three to four years, when the crews are in your area, you can get them dumped at your property. In order to apply for a permit for a wood chip debris site, call 253-857-5950, ext. 571, and a form will be sent to you.

What is PenLight’s residential rate?

As of April 1, 2016
Residential Summer Rates, May–September
Electric Basic Charge, $20.50
Tier 1 (0–399 kWh), $0.07174
Tier 2 (400–1,499 kWh), $0.07690
Tier 3 (1,500+ kWh), $0.07912

Residential Winter Rates, October–April
Electric Basic Charge, $20.50
Tier 1 (0–399 kWh), $0.07174
Tier 2 (400–3,499 kWh), $0.07690
Tier 3 (3,500+ kWh), $0.07912

General Service
Electric Basic Charge
Single Phase, $20.50
Three Phase, $34.00
All Energy per kWh at, $0.07710

How can I get involved to help keep the rates low?

PenLight encourages its members to write their members of Congress about how electric rates are impacting their family budget or business. You may also want to join PenLight’s Ambassador Program, which is a grassroots effort to influence state and federal policies that impact electric rates.

New and Modified Electrical Services

How do I schedule a new service hookup?

All new construction projects, including new service hookups, are initiated through our Engineering Department, which releases projects to the Operations Department once all the requirements are met. Service hookups are automatically scheduled unless the Engineer has noted other types of arrangements, such as Customer to coordinate, pre-construction meeting required, etc.

What do I need to do to relocate or to increase the size of my electrical service panel?

Call the Engineering Department to discuss your plans. All new and modified services are required to be placed underground. We will work with you to determine the size of panel you need. The typical electrical service panel is now rated at 200 amps and is suitable for most customers.

Why are all new and modified services required to be placed underground?

In 1993, the Board of Directors approved the requirement that all new and modified services are required to be placed underground. Surveys of our membership have supported this requirement in an effort to provide more reliable and aesthetically pleasing service to our membership. The majority of service-related outages have been attributed to trees falling on the service drops; when they are underground, that can’t happen.

How deep should my service trench be?

Minimum required cover is 24 inches.

Can phone, TV cable, and gas go in the same trench?

Yes, with a minimum of 6 inches of horizontal and vertical separation.  Gas lines require a minimum of 12 inches of horizontal separation.

Can I put my sewer tight line in the same trench as my service cable?

Yes, but there must be a minimum of 4 feet separation.

Can I install my own electrical service?

Yes, but all work must be approved by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries Electrical Division.

Can I directly bury my underground conductor?

Yes. However, we recommend all service conductors to be in gray-wall, electrical-approved conduit.

Can I have my meter base installed on the back of the house?

No. Please contact the Engineering Department with regard to approved meter base locations.

If the power lines in my area are being converted from overhead to underground, do I have to convert (underground) my overhead service to my house?

No. However, we are currently offering incentives to encourage our members. We will provide the necessary conduit and wire, and we will waive the trip fees if the service is converted within six months of our system conversion in your area. Members are responsible for hiring an electrician, providing the trench and arranging any necessary permits and inspections. The Engineering Department can provide trenching specifications, as well as information on state permits and inspection requirements.

What size wire should I run for my service?

The meter base size determines which size service conductor you need to purchase. Typical service conductors include:

Service Rating    Maximum Distance     Conductor
200 amp              220 feet                       4/0–4/0–2/0 Aluminum (1 run)
200 amp              250 feet                       250–250–3/0 Aluminum (1 run)
200 amp              340 feet                       350–350–4/0 Aluminum (1 run)
320 amp              220 feet                       4/0–4/0–2/0 Aluminum (2 runs)
320 amp              250 feet                       250–250–3/0 Aluminum (2 runs)
320 amp              340 feet                       350–350–4/0 Aluminum (2 runs)

Can I buy my service wire from PLC?

No. PLC does not sell underground service conductors, wire or meter bases.

Do you have a locator service? We are building a garage and don’t want to disturb any utilities.

To locate underground utilities, call 811.

Prepay

How do I check my balance, usage and make payments?

You may check your daily usage, your balance and make payments by logging in to your account through our homepage, or by calling the automated phone system at 877-853-1388.

Will I receive a bill?

No.  Prepay service customers do not receive a monthly bill.

What fees will I be charged?

There is a monthly Prepay service fee of $4 that is prorated on a daily basis. But there are no more late fees, collection fees or reconnect fees.

How and when will I be notified if my balance is low?

You have four options: email, text, automated phone call, or all three.  There are several notifications that may be sent to you:

  • Low balance at seven days, three days or one day of remaining power.
  • Negative balance and pending disconnect.
  • Payments and adjustments.

How can I avoid having my prepaid electric service disconnected?

To avoid an interruption in service, it is important to keep your account balance at or above zero ($0.00), or your service may be disconnected. If your current balance falls below zero, your service will be scheduled for disconnect.

How do I get my service reconnected?

If your service is disconnected for a negative balance, you must pay enough to bring the balance positive before electric service is reconnected. Once a sufficient payment is made, your service should be reconnected within an hour.

What happens to my debt?

When you establish your prepay account, your total debt is set aside to allow you to continue service and avoid a deposit. With every payment made, 25 percent is allocated toward paying off your debt until it is paid in full.

How do I go back to monthly billings?

There are two options that will qualify you to return to monthly billing:  (1) you must pay off your debt in full and pay a deposit (twice your highest bill), or (2) you can choose to pay off your debt and maintain Prepay service for 12 months without a disconnect.

Surges & Surge Protection

What is a surge?

A surge occurs when the power line voltage goes higher than nominal and lasts longer than 10 milliseconds. There are three main forms of power interference: voltage dips, electromagnetic interference, and surges. Surges can occur on your electric, phone or even cable TV lines. Every piece of electrical equipment in your home is designed to operate at a specified nominal voltage such as 120 Volts AC. Most equipment is designed to handle minor variations in their standard nominal operating voltage; however, even the smallest power surges can be very damaging to nearly all equipment.

What causes power surges?

Ninety percent (90%) of all electrical surges or transient voltage activity is generated within homes and businesses. In homes, most surges occur when motor-driven devices such as refrigerators, televisions, hair dryers, water pumps, etc. shut off. Suddenly the energy these devices were consuming is diverted elsewhere in the form of excess voltage. Surges at businesses are caused by elevators, air conditioners, vending machines, copiers, large computers, even lights turning on and off, resulting in rushes of power and transient voltages back up the line.

Ten percent (10%) of the problem is generated outside the home or office by events such as utility grid switching, line slapping, bad wiring, etc. Surges also happen when the electric company switches power from one geographic area of the grid to another as supply and demand in the region changes. Thunderstorms and lightening are the most dramatic and destructive causes of power line problems.

How often do these disturbances occur?

Because we use so many appliances and equipment such as refrigerators, pumps, heating and air conditioning systems all the time, disturbances happen frequently. A 17-month study done by IBM in 49 cities across the country found that an average of 128.3 disturbances happened in each monitored facility every month. Most were surges that did not cause immediate damage, but which could wear down equipment over time.

Can surges cause damage?

Yes. Today’s computerized appliances and electronics can be damaged or destroyed by over-voltage surges or spikes. That includes computer equipment and peripherals; electronic equipment such as stereos, TVs and VCRs; household appliances, including washers, dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, food processors, blenders and can openers; and other electronic devices such as fax machines, telephones and answering machines. Any electronic device that contains a microprocessor is susceptible to damage from transient voltages.

How big is the problem?

According to one of the country’s largest casualty loss insurers, over 63% of all loss-pay-outs on electronic equipment are due to power problems. Consumers can guard against these problems and prevent costly repairs only through the use of good quality surge suppressors.

Can a surge harm my equipment if I am not using it?

Yes. Many electrical devices have electronic timers, clocks or remote controls (TVs, VCRs), which remain in operation even when it is not in use. Also, some appliances cycle off and on at random, such as air conditioners, water heaters, pumps or refrigerators, and they could be on during a surge.

Why do I need surge protection?

There are several reasons why power quality has become such an important issue:

    1. Today’s computer chips are far more dense than they were even a few years ago, and subsequently, they’re much more sensitive to even slight surges.
    2. Clock speeds, or operating frequencies, have increased and reached the frequency range of high-voltage transients. Slower processors ignored them, but high-speed processors may actually interpret a transient as a command sequence.
    3. Most homes and offices are using more pieces of equipment than ever before. Each time an electric device is turned on, transient voltages may be generated.
    4. More microprocessor technology is being used than ever before. Microprocessors are showing up in personal computers, TVs, stereos, VCRs, refrigerators, washers, dryers, microwaves, dishwashers, etc.

Won’t my circuit breakers protect my equipment?

No. Circuit breakers are only designed to protect against over-current, not a spike or drop in voltage. Common AC circuit breakers don’t react quickly enough to protect sensitive electronic equipment.

What is a Surge Protector?

Surge Protectors are designed to reduce and divert potentially damaging short-duration voltage spikes safely out of the system to Ground. This is similar in concept to pressure relief valves that protect water heaters from overpressure. It is a common misconception that surge protectors “absorb” surges when in fact their purpose is to divert the surge away from the protected equipment to Ground.

How do surge suppressors work?

Suppressors work by absorbing some of the electrical surge and diverting the rest to the ground. The top brands use sophisticated components that allow them to react quickly (surges often last just millionths of a second) yet endure high voltages. Surge suppressors are not lightning arresters. They may not survive direct lightning strikes or sustained line over-voltages (broken neutral).

What is Whole House Surge Protection?

Whole House Surge Protection is a system of surge protectors working together to eliminate surges from a number of external and internal sources. Applying surge protectors at the incoming electrical, cable/satellite, and telephone utility services keep externally generated surges from entering your home. Localized surge protectors applied to sensitive electronics safeguard against internally generated surges.

Why do I need a surge protection system?

The problems caused by disturbances in the power line may not surface immediately. They can cause the gradual breakdown of electronic circuitry. Any piece of electronic equipment that behaves in an erratic fashion may need a surge protector. However, new equipment should be protected when installed.

Will these devices prevent my clocks from blinking?

No. Neither the main, interior, nor exterior zone protectors can eliminate blinking clocks. Blinking is caused by momentary sags or outages, which are solved by the use of a UPS unit or buying electronics with built-in battery backup.

What is the purpose of the phone jacks on surge suppressors?

Some of the surge suppressors incorporate protection circuitry for telephone lines. There are two sockets on these products. By plugging a phone line through the sockets, you can minimize the effects of a surge coming into your equipment through the phone line. Fax machines, cordless phones and answering machines are especially sensitive, and computers with internal modems can be completely destroyed by spikes on a phone line.

What should I look for when selecting a Surge Protective Device?

Any surge protective device that you consider must be listed UL 1449 3rd Edition. All manufacturers UL listings are available for review on the UL website. Be careful not to confuse SPD listed products with secondary surge arrestors such as lightning arrestors. Secondary surge arrestors have a clamping voltage much too high to protect sensitive electronics. When comparing surge protectors it is important to consider both the surge current capacity and clamping voltage to determine the performance of the surge protector.

What is surge current capacity?

Surge current capacity is the maximum amount of surge current that a surge protector can pass for a single surge event. This level is used to indicate the protection capacity of a particular surge protector. For example, in a high exposure area with a high likelihood for lightning, a larger surge current capacity might be desired. But, be aware that surges have natural limitations and that larger surge current capacity tends to add redundancy rather than the implied ability to handle an extremely large surge. For example, an entire lightning strike cannot go through wire; much like a fire hose has difficulty shooting through a soda straw. Realistically, surge protectors do not need to be sized for entire lightning strikes. But, there are valid reasons for adding excess surge current capacity for redundancy reasons.

The surge protection industry uses kiloamperage (kA) as a measure of the products surge current capacity. kA ratings at or above 10kA (10,000 Amperes) are generally acceptable.

What Joule rating should I choose?

Many homeowners look at Joule ratings to determine which surge protector to purchase. Unfortunately, Joule ratings can be misleading according to IEEE research. When a surge protector is submitted for third party testing with Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a Joule rating is not a tested parameter. Joule ratings are an unreliable measurement for determining a products surge capacity because there is no test standard. The Joule rating listed on a surge protector’s package is determined using an unknown method by the manufacturer.

What is clamping voltage?

Clamping voltage, also referred to as let through voltage or the Voltage Protection Rating (VPR), is the amount of voltage a surge protector permits to pass through it to the attached load (ex: a TV) during a surge event. Clamping voltage is a performance measurement of a surge protector’s ability to attenuate a surge, or more simply, to reduce the surge to a manageable level. For example, a surge protector might limit a 6,000V surge so that only 600V is ‘visible’ to the load. The clamping voltage is 600V. This performance value is confirmed by Underwriters Laboratories during tests conducted while evaluating a surge protector for listing.

My electronics have built-in surge protection. Why do I need more?

Built-in surge protectors often aren’t strong enough to handle larger surges and spikes and, like other smaller surge protectors, can wear out without your even knowing it, leaving you with no protection at all. Built-in protection for one piece of equipment may still leave you without protection for important peripherals such as answering machines, modems, printers, etc. In addition, built-in protectors don’t provide back-up power which lets you perform orderly shut-downs.

Is the UL label an indication of a quality product?

Surge suppressors should perform to a specific standard (UL 1449). It is important that the surge suppressor is “listed” as performing to this standard. Avoid suppressors with labels worded like:

  • Tested to UL 1449
  • UL Classified
  • Tested to IEEE C62.41
  • Meets UL 1449
  • UL Recognized
  • Temporary Power Tap

Many manufacturers misrepresent their products. Some claim a UL listing for their products if they use a single UL listed component such as the power cord. Other products have never been tested as anything more than a temporary power tap, UL’s term for an extension cord. Many claim that they meet standards or that it has passed UL standards, when in fact, they have never been tested by UL.

How much should I spend on surge protection?

Ten percent of the purchase price of a solid-state system is a good value for insurance against power disturbances.

How do I hook up my plug-in surge protector?

Plug the surge protector into a powered wall outlet. Be sure the switch on the surge protector is set “ON” by pushing down on the reset side. If the surge protector has LEDs, be sure they are lighted according to the enclosed instruction manual. If not check your wall outlet. Connect equipment into the outlets on the power strip or surge protector. Be sure to plug in your phone/fax or TV/coax if surge protector has this option.

What is the purpose of the phone jacks on surge suppressors?

Some of the surge suppressors incorporate protection circuitry for the telephone line. There are two sockets on these products. By plugging a phone line through the sockets, you can minimize the effects of a surge coming into your equipment through the phone line. Facsimile machines, cordless phones and answering machines are especially sensitive, and computers with internal modems can be completely destroyed by spikes on the phone line.

Can I daisy chain surge protectors?

No. Surge protectors must be plugged directly into a grounded outlet to work properly. (Underwriters Laboratories prohibits daisy chaining) Never plug a surge protector into a plug strip or plug adapter.

How do I reset my Surge Protector?

Panel mount surge protectors cannot be “reset.” Once they have reached the end of their useful lifecycle the indicator light will extinguish and the product will need to be replaced.

What if my TV (or appliance) is damaged, but the surge suppressor’s lights are still on?

Then a transient did not damage the appliance. The units are designed to show evidence of a transient passing through it. If the lights are on, there is some other cause of the damage to the appliance.

What is a UPS?

An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is a device that sits between a power supply (e.g., wall outlet) and a device (e.g., computer) to prevent undesired features of the power source (outages, sags, surges, bad harmonics, etc.) from adversely affecting the performance of the device. A UPS provides a conditioned and reliable source of power to your electronic equipment when the main power source fails. The better units protect against surges and spikes in the power source, and they provide a continuing source of battery power.

What is the function of a UPS?

A UPS performs the following functions:

  • Absorb relatively small power surges.
  • Smooth out noisy power sources.
  • Continuously provides power to equipment during line sags.
  • Automatically shuts down equipment during long power outages.
  • Monitoring and logging of the status of the power supply.
  • Display the voltage/current draw of the equipment.
  • Restart equipment after a long power outage.
  • Display the voltage currently on the power line.
  • Provide alarms on certain error conditions.
  • Provide short-circuit protection.

How long will equipment on a UPS keep running after the power goes out?

For most computer workstations, one might have a UPS that was rated to keep the machine alive through a 15-minute power loss. If you need a machine to survive hours without power, you should probably look at a more robust power backup solution. Even if a UPS has a very small load, it must still operate a DC (battery) to AC converter, which uses power.

How much backup power do I need?

Within reason, there is never too much battery available. More batteries cost more, take up more room and weigh more. But the more battery power, the longer the UPS can operate without an external source of power. One solution is to have two to four hours of backup battery available and have a generator that can be used to recharge the batteries and run your systems after the batteries have been depleted. For larger installations, it is sometimes more economical to use automatic-starting generators rather than using more batteries.

Water

Why does water sometimes look cloudy when first drawn from a tap?

The cloudy water is caused by tiny air bubbles in the water similar to the gas bubbles in carbonated soft drinks. After a while, the bubbles rise to the top and are gone.

Should I buy bottled water?

Public drinking water is one of the most regulated industries in the United States today. If you want a drink with a different taste, you can buy bottled water, but it costs about 1,000 times as much as tap water. Remember that the U.S. bottled-water industry is less regulated than public drinking water systems. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration only requires that the bottled water be clear and safe for human consumption. The quality of the finished product is not monitored (i.e., the FDA imposes no specific water quality requirements on bottled water). Certain bottlers simply fill their bottles with city drinking water, thus producing “bottled water.” Studies have shown that microbes grow in the bottles while on grocers’ shelves. Bottled water is popular; its use in the United States has doubled in the last six years.

What activity in my home uses the most water?

Toilet flushing is by far the largest single use of water in a home. Most toilets use from 4 to 6 gallons of water for each flush. On average, a dishwasher uses about 50 percent less water than the amount used when washing and rinsing dishes by hand.

Should I put a brick in my toilet tank to conserve water?

Toilet flushing uses a lot of water, but a brick in your toilet tank is not a good idea. A brick tends to crumble and might damage the toilet’s mechanism. A glass jar or plastic jug filled with water works well. After any changes, be sure to test the toilet to make sure it’s still working properly. Flow restrictors in shower heads and faucets are another good way to conserve water.

You must have read the meter wrong. I couldn’t have used this much water!

You can check your water meter. Just open the box and compare the reading to the one printed on your bill. It should be a bit larger. If it isn’t, we have misread. Please call us at 253-857-1510 so we can get the situation corrected. If the reading checks out, you may have a water leak. The next time your house will be empty for two or more hours, record the meter reading as you leave. Repeat this as you return. If the reading has changed, you have a leak somewhere.

I like a green lawn, but I don’t water this much!

Do you have an underground sprinkler system? They are notorious for leaks. The way to tell is to turn the timer off for a few days and watch for “green spots” (or turn the timer off and follow directions in the first question).

There is no way my meter was read. I just looked, and the box is full of dirt, same as last week. Do you ever read them or just estimate?

Your meter is read every month. The reader shovels out just enough dirt to see the register and a mole can cover it back over in just a matter of minutes.

I know I waste water. How can I quit using so much and keep my bill down?

Peninsula Light has several brochures on ways to save water, both indoors and out. They are entitled “Guidelines 1 to 4” and are located in the community information center in the lobby.

How do I know my water is safe to drink?

Peninsula Light employs three state-certified Water Distribution Managers. They are responsible to see that each water system we own or manage is in compliance with all water quality standards. Your water is tested regularly by a state-certified laboratory. If any health risks are detected, you are notified directly and given instructions on what to do.

I have a water leak and can’t find a shut-off valve. What do I do?

Contact your water supplier. They will explain their policy.