As millions of Texans applied for unemployment benefits and other financial aid resources to help during the pandemic--some of those programs are about to expire.
If you or someone you know has recently filed for unemployment they may qualify for the states COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program — Aug. 31 is the last day to apply for the program.
“The whole idea was to create a program that would provide those protections for those Texans who were really in the most dire financial situations,” said Andrew Barlow, spokesman for the Public Utility Commission of Texas. “It provides protection from disconnection for nonpayment for customers or retail electric providers across the state.”
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In March, the Public Utility Commission passed a resolution to help Texans struggling to pay their electric bill and prevent the provider from shutting off the service now through the end of September.
“Even if you apply on the very last day, you can receive protection from disconnection through the end of the month of September. So basically, what you'd be looking at is kind of making your way through the remainder of the hottest parts of the Texas summer when sometimes electricity bills can be hardest to pay,” said Barlow.
And if you’re still unemployed and having trouble paying the bills, the Public Utility Commission has a few suggestions.
“If you're struggling to pay your bill, even if you don't enroll in the electricity really program to reach out to that company, discuss with them your financial situation, your ability or inability to pay. discuss that deferred payment plan, because at the end of the day, sometimes it's going to cost them more to get a new customer than it would to retain you,” said Barlow. “So build that relationship, rely on that relationship. and, you know, tell them what you need and you're going to find I think they're going to be surprisingly willing to work with you to kind of get everybody through this.”
Since March, the program has helped nearly 595,000 Texans from disconnection for nonpayment. More than $30 million of bill payment assistance has been provided, using funds from a rider charge applied to the bills of electricity customers across ERCOT.
For more information or to apply, https://txcovid19erp.org/