As we continue to face record-breaking temperatures across the state, AARP wants to be sure that you know what resources are available to help with skyrocketing electricity bills.
If you are getting behind in your electricity payments you should ask your electric company to help you. You can suggest a payment plan that works for you. Make sure you will be able to afford the new payment plan because if you miss a payment the total amount will become due and it will be harder to prevent a shut-off.
You can spread the really high cooling costs of summer across the entire calendar year by signing up for budget billing. With budget billing (also called levelized or average payments) instead of paying more when you use more, you pay roughly the same amount every month. Budget billing is not a discount program; it offers no savings or lower rates but will make bill paying more manageable.
State Electric Discount
If you live in a deregulated area of the state and have a household income of 125% of the federal poverty level or below you may be eligible to receive a 20% discount on your electricity bill. The LITE-UP Texas program provides this discount on electric bills from May-September. If you receive other income-eligible state benefits you may already be automatically enrolled in the program. To find out if you are eligible, call 1-866-454-8387.
Energy Assistance Grants
If your annual income is 125% of the federal poverty level or below you may be able to get up to $1,200 to help you pay for immediate utility expenses. Energy Assistance Grants are federally funded, but locally administered. To locate your local entity administering this program to apply for assistance, call 1-877-399-8939.
You can lower your electricity bills through energy efficiency measures, such as insulation and weather-stripping through the federally funded, but locally administered Weatherization Assistance Program. This program is open to income eligible households of 125% of federal poverty level and below. To locate your local entity administering this program to apply, call 1-888-606-8889.
Switching Electricity Providers
If you live in a deregulated area of the state and you are considering switching electricity providers you can get information on what’s available at: 1-866-PWR 4 TEX (1-866-797-4839) or www.powertochoose.org.
Here are some things to remember when shopping for a new Retail Electric Provider
- Take nothing for granted. Double-check the terms of the service agreement before saying yes.
- Check the rate, the minimum time the rate must be in effect, penalties, and extra fees charged by the Retail Electric Provider.
- You have three days to rescind the agreement. Use this right if you think you may have made a mistake.
If You Have Problems Or Questions About Your Electric Service
- Call the electric company or in deregulated areas your Retail Electric Provider.
- Contact the Public Utility Commission (PUC) at 1-888-782-8477 and ask to file a complaint.
- Send a copy of the complaint to your State Representative and State Senator. You can find out which elected officials represent you (and get their contact information) at: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/