Moratorium on Power Disconnects

TXU Energy has declared another moratorium on disconnects for some of its customers who can't pay their electric bills during the hot summer months. Jim Bell reports.

Between July 1st and September 30th, TXU won't turn the power off for residential customers who're at least 62 years of age -or- designated as low income under federal poverty guidelines, and people in both groups who can show that losing power would cause health problems for themselves or someone in the household.  Spokesman Mike Guiterrez says those people won't have to pay their bills at all during the moratorium, but they will have to pay the bill in installments after the moratorium expires at the end of September.

"The plan requires payment of 25 percent of the deferred bill as part of the first electric bill issued after September 30th, and then the remaining  balance will be paid in equal installments over the next five billing cycles."

Guiterrez says in addition to this installment plan, TXU is also setting aside $125 million dollars for a program that allows low income customers to get a ten percent discount year-round. This is on top of the discount already available in a state program that provides low income assistance on energy bills.  He says it's also committing $25 million dollars to still another program that assists any customer who needs emergency help in paying electric bills.

"Especially now in these economic times, it's important that we help our low income customers pay their energy bills."

Guiterrez says people who think they qualify for payment deferral during the disconnect moratorium should sign up for it in advance, by calling TXU at 800-242-9113. 

Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.