July 12, 1996 in Nation/World

Woman Receives Wwp Apology, Money For Bill Mistakes Were Made, Utility Admits

By The Spokesman-Review

Marilyn Franck got a public apology and gifts of money Thursday when people learned power to her home and life-support machine was nearly turned off because she hadn’t paid her bill.

“There were mistakes made,” said Marc Schaffner, customer service manager for Washington Water Power Co.

Schaffner apologized to Franck in a morning interview on KXLY radio, then called her to personally say he was sorry and that he would visit her.

His comments came one day after he had described the utility’s decision to turn off Franck’s power as “prudent” considering her ongoing debt.

The Thursday apology followed a story detailing Franck’s struggle to keep power to her small home at 2310 E. Boone where she has lived on and off since birth.

Franck, 57, also received word from the Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs (SNAP) that an anonymous man wanted to pay off her $339 debt to WWP and donate $100 a month to her electrical needs.

“It’s so amazing what people will do,” Franck said. “I thank everybody for doing it for me.

“It’s a relief,” Franck added, noting she was feeling better, but that her eyes still hurt from crying.

Her power was scheduled to be shut off at 5 p.m. Wednesday unless she paid a minimum payment of $104.

That move was put on hold after her doctor’s nurse called WWP and re-emphasized Franck needs electricity to run her oxygen machine.

Franck is recovering from heart surgery and needs the oxygen at night and often during the day.

She fell several months behind in her WWP payments, she said, because the public assistance checks she receives barely cover rent and food.

SNAP’s Julie Pickerel said the agency received many calls Thursday from people wanting to help. The agency also saw a wave of donations to Project Share.

The project, funded by local utility ratepayers and federal sources, is designed to help needy people pay power bills, especially during frigid winter months.

Pickerel said SNAP usually works well with WWP to prevent dire predicaments like Franck’s.

She said a possible reason that Franck wasn’t hooked up with SNAP sooner was that the agency rarely provides summer energy help.

Schaffner said he isn’t aware of any cases in which WWP has actually shut off power to a delinquent ratepayer who needed electricity to run a life-support system.

, DataTimes

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