From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Kelvin Bass
Tuesday, July 25, 2006

There's some relief for high summer utility costs

DALLAS -- Last week, State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas ) joined fellow Democratic legislators, the Office of Public Utility Counsel, ACORN, AARP and other consumer groups in urging the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to enact a statewide ban on electric utility cutoffs for the remainder of the summer months. As many Texans are enduring extreme hot weather conditions, higher utility rates are making customers keenly aware of the costs of staying cool.

In response to public outcry, the PUC approved a temporary moratorium that upon request, prevents electric providers from disconnecting services to eligible customers through September 30. Effective immediately, senior low-income, low-income and residential "critical care" customers must call their service provider and give notice of their inability to pay their electric bill. Upon request approval, the service provider will inform the eligible customer of the applicable extended deferred payment arrangement.

Customers in all instances must still make a partial payment on their monthly utility bill. If approved, eligible recipients will not face disconnection for non-payment of electric service delivered through September 30, 2006.

(Residential critical care customers are defined as those for whom disconnection would pose a life-threatening situation. A family of four who earns less than $20,000 annually is generally accepted as low-income. That figure is $9,800 for a family of one.)

For other Dallas County residents struggling with high summer electric bills, assistance is available through Dallas County Health & Human Services. Call 214-819-6001 or 214-819-1848. Assistance referrals are also available by dialing 2-1-1.

For more information, please contact Kelvin Bass at 214-467-0123.