Rochester Public Utility customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will see some relief in the near future.

The city-owned utility is working on a program to provide up to $600 in relief to households and up to $5,000 for businesses directly hit by the pandemic.

Once launched, the program will be first-come, first-served using $300,000 to $500,000 of federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“Once we hit the limit of the allocated funds, the program will cease, unless we get more funds,” RPU General Manager Mark Kotschevar told the utility board Tuesday.

Peter Hogan, RPU’s director of corporate services, said the assistance will be available to property owners, as well as renters, and it will cover all the utility services charged through the RPU billing process. Households with an annual income of $70,000 or less will be eligible for the program.

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Qualified applicants could receive assistance of up to 50% of their billed utilities from March 31 to December.

“We’re trying to spread it as far as we can,” Hogan said.

Krista Boston, RPU’s director of customer relations, said the applications are ready to be distributed and the program is expected to roll out next week, with more information expected to be available on the RPU website.

“The details are kind of getting worked out as we talk,” she said Tuesday afternoon.

Boston said the program comes at a time when increasing support is being seen through the local energy assistance program administered by Three Rivers Community Action.

She said the program has reported an increase of 260 households receiving crisis payments, compared to recent years. The overall funds disbursed to assist with utility payments have more than doubled.