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Texas Agency Bans Utility Cutoffs For Failure To Pay

The Public Utility Commission of Texas has implemented a ban on utility cutoffs for consumers who don’t pay their bills. The move does not apply to cooperatives or to municipality-owned utilities like CPS in San Antonio or Austin Energy.

Commission chair DeAnn Walker introduced the order during a Sunday afternoon emergency meeting. She explained that the commission met on Sunday — when disconnections aren’t allowed — to ensure that no consumer cutoffs begin on Monday.

“I'm telling y'all this: it is my desire to have a directive to all retail electric providers that they not submit a request for disconnect for non-pay during this time period, until we get the financial part of this worked out, which I'm hoping will be soon,” she said.

In addition to retail electric providers, the order covers water and sewer utilities.

“Protecting consumers by stopping cutoffs is the right thing to do,” said commissioner Arthur D'Andrea.

San Antonio officials have indicated they will push for a similar rule at the local level. While San Antonio Water Systems has implemented a program to avoid sky-high bills, CPS Energy has offered to spread out payments over a decade — but not to forgive any portion of a bill.

The Public Utility Commission made a similar move in March due to the economic fallout of COVID-19. That order lasted six months.

Copyright 2021 Texas Public Radio. To see more, visit .

Dominic Anthony Walsh covers energy, the environment and public health for Texas Public Radio. He focuses on stories that reveal how major changes in climate systems, energy markets and public health policies affect communities in his hometown, San Antonio, and across the state.