AUSTIN, Texas -- The Association of Electric Companies of Texas (AECT) announced the Texas Heat Relief Initiative, a five-point plan to help Texas consumers stay cool this summer while minimizing their electricity consumption. The initiative includes over $40 million to provide assistance for those who may face difficulties paying their electric bills this summer and to assist and educate customers about energy efficiency.

"The investor-owned utilities in Texas are working together with community action agencies, state officials and their customers to make certain no one is forced to choose between paying their electricity bill or their health and well-being," said John Fainter, President of AECT. "With higher natural gas prices increasing the cost of electricity, coupled with the typically hot Texas summers, AECT member companies realize that consumers may need help.

“This initiative is designed to educate consumers about their options and the programs available to them -- from both their electric company and non-profit and governmental agencies."

Fainter noted that the price of electricity could be as much as 30 percent higher than last summer due to significantly higher natural gas prices.

The Texas Heat Relief Initiative outlines strategies for all consumers -- and particularly low-income, senior citizens and hard-to-reach customers of Texas' investor-owned utilities -- to reduce their electricity consumption without reducing their well-being or safety. These include the following five points:

  • AECT member companies will provide up to $21.5 million in financial assistance to a diverse group of community agencies and other non-profit organizations who are committed to working with low-income Texans; and those on fixed incomes for bill payment assistance, weatherization, insulation, fluorescent lighting, and/or refrigerator replacement throughout the summer. The AECT member companies will work closely with these organizations and customers to ensure the effective distribution of these funds.
  • For the senior citizens and those on fixed incomes, AECT member companies will work to ensure they have information on assistance available to them, including budget payment plan options. As an extra safeguard, company employees watch for customers who may be putting their health at risk and will work with family members to ensure the safety of customers who need assistance.
  • For those families who typically do not seek assistance, but who may face difficulty in paying electric bills this summer, AECT member companies will provide energy conservation strategies that will produce significant savings on their electricity bills, if customers take advantage of them. In addition, member companies have average monthly payment plans available to help customers better manage their monthly bills.
  • Working directly with small business and commercial customers, as well as through their trade and professional associations, AECT member companies will provide energy efficiency and conservation information to help these customers reduce electric bills.
  • AECT will create a task force to monitor these efforts throughout the summer to determine if additional steps should be taken.
  • "It's important that all customers who need help know exactly what is available to them -- whether simple tips for reducing consumption or direct assistance in paying their electric bills," Mr. Fainter said. "AECT member companies take their responsibility seriously in making certain the assistance and information is available to their customers."

    Publication date: 06/25/2001