From the Office of State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2006
CONTACT: Melissa del Bosque (512) 463-0120, cell 947-4046

Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa asks Governor to Add Electricity Rate Relief to the Call in Special Session

AUSTIN -- State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa has requested that Governor Perry add electricity rate relief to the call for special session so that working families can find relief from rising electricity rates.

"I have heard from numerous constituents in my district that they have had enough with electricity rates that are skyrocketing through the roof," Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa said. "Working families are saying 'Ya basta con los aumentos!'"

Senator Hinojosa said he will file legislation to have electricity bills more closely reflect the actual cost of energy.

January 1st 2006, the cost of natural gas has dropped by 35 percent, yet CPL which serves the majority of District 20, has increased its rates.

Since 2002, CPL has been granted six rate increases and household bills have doubled from less than $90 in 2002 to $180 in 2006.

"Working families are being forced to choose between putting food on their tables and keeping their electricity on," said Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa. "As public policy makers we need to examine very closely how rates are being set and whether Texans are being unfairly charged with excessive rates."

Ms. Yi Yi Dean, director of housing for Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi, said that in the past six months the charity has seen a 27.9% increase in the number of requests for assistance with electric bills.

"Daily we see people on fixed incomes who are forced to choose between paying their electric bill and eating - usually people would rather skip a meal instead of having their electricity turned off," said Dean.

Senator Juan Hinojosa said that Texas ranks 40th in the affordability of its electric bills in the nation.

"I am deeply concerned about the impact that inflated prices will have on our families and small businesses, especially when summer temperatures drive electric bills higher," Senator Hinojosa said.

Dean said that Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi will probably be overwhelmed this summer with requests for help with rising electricity costs.

"We know that requests will increase even more this summer and will overwhelm our ability to assist families, so we will probably have to limit our assistance to $50 a family," said Dean.

Juanita Valdez-Cox, director of La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), in San Juan said more working families are seeking assistance.

"We see on a daily basis a lot of people who are having a very difficult time paying their electric costs due to the rate increase by CPL," said Valdez-Cox. "They try hard to cut down on their usage but they still can't afford to pay for the increases."

Valdez-Cox said that the number of families receiving disconnect notices is on the rise.

"I know there has been an increase of folks who have received a disconnect notice from CPL," she said. "The county fund set up to help these families quickly runs out because of the high numbers of families in need."

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