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Utilities power through pandemic

There hasn’t been a strain on the city’s utility system despite more people having to stay at home for a month and a half.

Additionally, less than 1 percent of utility accounts are in arrears.

According to Boulder City Communications Manager Lisa LaPlante, the usage for city utility services of electricity, water, sewer, trash and recycling services for March 2020 is less than the same time period in 2019.

She said it is “likely weather related” because of the mild temperatures last month.

The city has approximately 8,400 utility accounts, and LaPlante said 85 were on the shut-off list for April, but numerous residents have either paid off the bill or made payment arrangements with the city. As of Tuesday, May 5, she said there were about 10 accounts that were still in danger of being shut off and city staff was trying to contact them.

If people are having a hard time paying their utility bills, they can call the utility department for options about what they can do.

“We can work with you, but we need to discuss options,” LaPlante said. “Some residents may be eligible for programs, which may reduce their utility bills. Please contact the utilities department at 702-293-9244.”

Another service people use more when they are at home is the internet.

Cox Communications, one of the town’s internet providers, does not have official numbers, but there has been a small increase in overall usage, according to communications manager Susie Black-Manriquez.

“As far as Cox’s network, overall, we’ve seen a slight uptick in total traffic,” she said. “Everything is running smoothly, but traffic patterns are varying some. … As always, we’re keeping a close eye at the individual node level to make sure we don’t approach any congestion thresholds and need to make any adjustments.”

Black-Manriquez said Cox will accelerate network upgrades if the network reaches or exceeds its capacity, which is the company’s usual practice.

Through June 30, Cox leadership said the company will not terminate internet or telephone service for anyone who cannot pay their bills because of disruptions caused by COVID-19. Late fees are also waived.

“From our continued support of the FCC’s (Federal Communication Commission) initiative to the extension of our other relief offerings, our focus remains on ensuring our Southern Nevada customers stay connected and have the speeds they need to work and learn from home,” said Michael F. Bolognini, vice president and market leader for Cox Las Vegas. “We do not want our customers to worry about losing essential services during this time of need.”

Century Link, which also offers internet service in the area, is monitoring the situation.

“Currently, we are seeing no impacts to our network, making the risk to our customers’ service continuity minimal,” Andrew Dugan, the company’s chief technology officer, said in a statement. “However, we know how quickly things can change. Our network operations center is constantly monitoring usage across our network. Through a combination of smart technologies and human expertise, our teams can quickly add capability, modify paths and shape traffic to meet the changing needs of our customers.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Christopher Lawrence contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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