Power Companies Announce Summer Programs

One week after accusing electricity providers of disconnecting power to the poor and elderly, a Houston politician is now praising their efforts. Bill Stamps tells us why.
State lawmaker Sylvester Turner complained to the Public Utilities Commission last week after receiving complaints from the public about their electricity being cut off. These were people who weren't supposed to be cut off due to poor health, age or income.

The power companies say if those customers had called them instead of their politician...they could have worked out a plan. The three big Texas power companies — Reliant, Direct and TXU — all have summer programs designed to keep the poor, critically ill and seniors from having their electricity turned off.

"Because we realize people really are in a pinch — it's a hard time for a lot of Americans, especially Texans — and so we are willing to go and work with you, but we need you to call us because we don't have a way of knowing what your situation is when you send a bill in."

Carl Richie is with TXU. He joined representatives from Reliant and Direct Energy at a special meeting called by Representative Turner. Their message to the public is to call your power company instead of waiting until a worker shows up at your door ready to disconnect. Sylvester Turner says by then its too late.

"The bottom line is if you're elderly, critical care or low income, these companies — if you meet their qualifications — are not going to disconnect you through September the 30th."

Bill Stamps KUHF Houston Public Radio News.