AARP AARP States Texas Advocacy

Struggling with Electricity Bills? There's Help.

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At a press conference yesterday with State Representative Sylvester Turner (Houston) and other advocacy groups including Texas Legal Services Center and Texas ROSE, AARP helped get out the word about new help for low-income Texans struggling with their electricity bills.

Certain low-income Texas households in deregulated areas of the state, can receive an 82 percent discount in September through the LITE-UP TEXAS program. If you think you might be eligible, learn more and apply today at the Texas Legal Services Center website or at the Public Utility Commission's website. The deadline to apply is August 13. This program is specific to the summertime but will also be available in 2014.

Tim Morstad, who helps lead outreach efforts for AARP in Texas, also had these remarks at the press conference:

“Poverty among the elderly remains a serious and persistent problem in Texas, with one in five living at or near the poverty level. For years, the LITE UP TEXAS program has helped the poor and the near poor afford their utility bills, making food, shelter, health care and other necessities more affordable... “The not-so-good news is that this program will end after the summer of 2016; unfortunately, its mission will not be fully realized. The System Benefit Fund and the LITE UP TEXAS program were created because there was a concern that low-income Texans would not benefit under deregulation. Eleven years into it, Texas' deregulated electric market is a confusing mess for many Texans. Apples-to-apples comparison shopping by consumers to find the best value nearly takes both a lawyer and an accountant. Low-income Texans simply do not have that luxury. “But we are here to deal with the facts as they are today, not as we wish they could be. There is money now out there for deserving Texans and we want to make sure they are fully informed.”

AARP Texas volunteer Mari Okabayashi, who also volunteers for the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature, was also present.

“We believe that one death because of lack of electricity or cooling in the heat of the summer is one death too many,” she told the Texas Tribune.

Want to learn more? The Houston Chronicle and the Dallas Morning News both covered the story.

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