Temperatures this summer were record setting. And with the high heat came expensive electricity bills that left many Texas customers unable to pay their bills. Air conditioning a house in the dog days of summer is not an easy task, especially if insulation is poor, or houses have not been weatherproofed.
With next summer potentially being just as hot for Texans, let’s explore some of the options that consumers have for getting help with energy bills.
- Consumers can get help through the Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP), which is always an option for Texans who might qualify. It largely depends on your household size divided by your annual income.
- You look up assistance programs in your local county. You would be surprised at the help that is available out there. For example, if you live in Tarrant County, they have a variety of options available.
- There are nonprofits who specialize in helping out during peak summer times as well. Be sure to reach out if you qualify.
Will Lite-Up Texas Make a Comeback?
Continuing the subject of financial assistance for energy bills – which will continue to be relevant if global temperatures keep rising – will programs similar to Lite-Up Texas make a comeback any time soon?
Lite-Up Texas was a program that helped lower income households through discounts and assistance, but it was discontinued in 2016. And penalty waivers stopped in 2017. The program itself was only offered in the deregulated parts of the state, which accounts for the largest portion after all.
Considering that the last two summers have been brutal, there’s a strong case for a similar sort of program to come back. Without it, a lot of REPs are forced to disconnect service for low income families, often when they need it most. Although utilities are not allowed to shut off the power during heat advisories, this still does not account for the sweltering weeks that fall just below that threshold.
And the rising inability to pay electric bills isn’t just a Texas issue: in 2018, the EIA shared that 31% percent of all households in the country have a difficult time affording their energy bills. That’s a scary prospect, and will continue to get worse if temperatures increase without commensurate assistance.
One viable option in Texas, specifically, is to offer customers the ability to tap into excess renewable energy, or to provide options for supplementary energy through renewable sources. If the development of microgrids continue to take off, there could even be a community reserve for lower income families, stored in utility-scale batteries or other similar storage options.