Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com
Dallas County expects nearly 10,000 requests for help from people to pay their power bills.
Applications for power bill assistance have doubled this summer at the Dallas County Health Department.
Normally the agency receives about 4,500 requests, but Director Zach Thompson expects almost 10,000 this summer.
High power bills are a health issue because Dallas County has recorded 16 heat-related deaths this summer.
"We're saying we want them to run their A/C units because we don't want any more heat-related deaths here in Dallas County," Thompson said.
In addition to the string of days with high temperatures hotter than 100, nighttime low temperatures have set record highs in the heat wave, too.
"So it's going to drive the use of the A/C units almost 24-7, so that's going to contribute to the high electric bills," Thompson said.
Alice Davis, an electric customer on a fixed income, received assistance from the health department Wednesday for a $300 bill, twice what she normally pays.
"I can't pay that and pay all the other bills, too, so I'm just real glad to know the county was offering help at this time," she said. "[It was] so much needed, and I’m so grateful."
Davis said it took two weeks to get her appointment.
"You have to be persistent, you have to keep calling," she said.
Thompson said his department is extremely busy because the number of people having trouble paying their electric bills has doubled.
He said customers should call for assistance as soon as they receive a high power bill they know they can't pay instead of waiting for the power company to threaten cut off service, when it may be too late to arrange help.
The county has money from the state and programs from TXU and Reliant to help electric customers.