Reliant Energy summer electric disconnect moratorium takes up where failed House Bill 1604 left off...

Reliant Energy has announced a summer program to help customers with electricity bill payments. The initiative drew the support of a state lawmaker who tried to get the legislature to create a statewide program. Ed Mayberry reports.

In the legislative session that just ended, State Representative Sylvester Turner introduced a bill to provide a moratorium on electric disconnections for seniors, critical-care and low-income individuals this summer.

"That bill, House Bill 1604, did not pass.  But one of the reasons why I am pleased to be here with Reliant is that Reliant has seen fit to do in large part what 1604 called for."

The program includes a moratorium on disconnecting electricity service for those who contact Reliant Energy and agree to a payment plan.

"You electricity during the summer will not disconnected.  And then as of September, you start to pay a portion of the bill and engage in a differed payment plan.  For low-income people themselves, making roughly about 125 per cent of the federal poverty level, they will have to pay a third of their bill during the summer, and then the remaining balance will be paid over the next five months."

Reliant Energy President Jason Few explains the initiative.

"From July 1st through September 30th, the assistance will include the continuation of a $1 million commitment to assist low-income and elderly residential customers pay their electricity bills through our CARE program, which is Community Assistance from Reliant Energy.  Even though House Bill 1604 did not pass, we do have a moratorium on disconnecting electricity service for low-income seniors, critical-care and other low-income residential customers who contact Reliant Energy and agree to the payment plans as were described."

Reliant is also providing Beat the Heat centers for the fourth year in a row.

"The centers will operate from nine to five each weekday beginning June 22nd through October 2nd, and I encourage our customers and others to take advantage of the centers.  Each Reliant Beat the Center will include games for adults and children, movies, snacks and water.  As you've heard, drinking lots of water in the heat is a very important thing, so we're happy to provide lots of water."

Sheila Savannah is with the Houston Department of Health and Human Services, which issues heat advisories throughout the summer.

"Increase water consumption.  Conduct outdoor work or exercise early in the morning or in the evening when it's cooler.  If the house is not air conditioned, we want you to seek accommodations in air conditioned facilities such as our multi-service centers, the libraries, shopping malls or movie theaters.  And stay alert to heat advisories."

Free home energy audits are being provided for qualified low-income and elderly residential customers, and some qualify for free attic insulation and compact fluorescent bulbs. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.  

Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...