Low Income Utility Assistance
In 1999, the Texas Legislature passed the Texas Electric Choice Act, authorizing the System Benefit Fund (SBF) and the programs it would support. Importantly, the SBF provided funding for reduced rates for low-income customers through discounts and weatherization programs, regardless of which retail electric provider (REP) serves them. The fund also supports one-time utility bill assistance for people who are seriously ill or have disabilities. Electric utility customers fund the program through fees on their utility bills.
Challenges for Persons Living with MS
Hot summer temperatures combined with Texas’ high utility rates leave many Texans with MS unable to cool their homes or afford their utility bills. Most people with MS experience worsening of symptoms when overheated; this can drastically affect the ability to function and presents serious health and safety risks.
Restore the System Benefit Fund
Fees for the System Benefit Fund are still being collected, but most of the revenue is not being used to support the programs for which it was created. Too many low income Texans are unable to adequately heat and cool their homes. All of the funds collected for the SBF should be restored and used for the intended purpose.
We support setting funding priorities as follows:
1. A 12-month discount to reduce total electricity bills from 10 to 20 percent.
2. Low-Income Weatherization
3. Emergency bill payment assistance for seriously ill or disabled.
4. Customer education and administration
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