City of Austin extends sign-up period for
6-month utility bill payment plan
City of Austin utility customers delinquent on summer utility bills now have until September 28 to sign up for a one time six-month payment plan. Utility payment plans (Deferred Payment Agreements) are generally available for up to a four-month period. To date more than 7,000 customers have signed up for the 6-month payment plan option.
The offer is available to any customer – regardless of their payment history (customers involved in meter tampering are not eligible). Customers can use the six-month payment option by paying one-third of their delinquent total and paying the rest in equal installments over six months along with their monthly utility bill.
Big Summer Electric Bills
With the consistent 100-plus degree temperatures this summer air conditioning use has pushed residential electric usage to record levels. Single-family home owners set new monthly usage records for May, June, July and likely August (once end of month data is compiled). This means summer electric bills that have been higher for many customers than in any summer in recent history.
$15 Million in Delinquent Bills
Because of the extreme heat – the City of Austin has not been cutting off utility services of delinquent customers. Cuts for non-payment are halted anytime the heat index reaches or exceeds 102 degrees one day and is expected to reach or exceed 102 degrees on the following day. No disconnects for non-payment have occurred since July 1.
Through the end of July utility bills delinquent by 30 days or more total more than $15 million dollars — with the numbers growing each day. This in spite of the fact that the City of Austin gives customers 21 days to pay their utility bill from the date of issuance compared to a 16-day average for most other utilities serving large Texas cities.
Utility Bill Assistance
Customers currently receiving benefits through various assistance programs such as Supplemental Social Security Income, various state Medicaid programs and Travis County assistance programs may be eligible for the City of Austin Utility Discount Program.
The City program – one of the most generous in the nation, provides combined utility bill discounts of about $400 a year for an average customer. Currently almost 10,000 customers participate in the program with utility bill savings for the group totaling almost $4 million a year.
Emergency Utility Bill Assistance
The City of Austin in 2009 doubled to $300,000 the amount of money made available annually for emergency utility bill financial assistance. Utility customers also donate about $45,000 a year on average to this cause. The funding is administered by community outreach partners such as Travis County Family Services, Meals on Wheels and more. Details on all utility bill payment assistance programs are available at the following link: http://www.austinenergy.com/go/paymentassistance
The City of Austin maintains a registry for Medically Vulnerable customers with a long-term disease or critical ailments. Customers who qualify may receive additional time to pay utility bills and are provided one-on-one case management to help keep their utility accounts in good standing and to secure social service assistance where possible. The program applies to those on life support, those being treated for a critical illness such as paraplegia or multiple sclerosis or those being treated for an illness impacted by extreme temperatures. Details on the program are available at the following link: http://www.austinenergy.com/go/medicallyvulnerable
For information or to sign up for programs customers can call 494-9400. Customer Care operating hours are from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. Customers may also e-mail questions and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.