Texas Legal Services Center Petitions Texas PUC For Disconnection Moratorium
March 23, 2020 Email This Story Copyright 2010-20 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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Texas Legal Services Center and several other similar groups have petitioned the Public Utility Commission of Texas for an emergency rule to, among other things, apply a moratorium on utility shutoffs to residential utility services statewide during and for 30 days after the termination of the COVID-19 state of emergency.
The emergency rule requested would apply to all Texans regardless of income.
While TLSC acknowledged the voluntarily actions taken by some retail electric providers, TLSC said, "in order to guarantee uniform protections to the public regardless of which retail provider they chose or in which city they reside, to create consistency and fairness, and to further the public health, PUC should follow the lead of more than a dozen other states by (1) suspending rules permitting disconnections of service for electric, telephone, and water; (2) prohibiting late fees; and (3) restoring services for those previously disconnected."
TLSC proposes the following text for the rule:
1. No electric, water, or telephone provider, or any company providing a combination of such services (a 'Residential Service Company'), shall terminate the service of a customer if the service is used, in whole or in part, in a dwelling unit or residence.
2. A Residential Service Company shall not bill or collect, on an account that serves a dwelling unit or residence, any down payment, fee, or charge imposed for a late or otherwise untimely payment that becomes due from the date of this Rule.
3. A Residential Service Company shall make reasonable attempts to reconnect service to any occupied dwelling unit or residence that has been terminated or disconnected without requiring reconnection fee.
4. This Rule remains effective until 30 days after the latter of the termination of the state of emergency and the proclamation of the catastrophic health emergency.
5. The effect of any rule or regulation by this Commission that is inconsistent with this Rule is hereby suspended.
"Maintaining utility services to our homes is not only critical to the health, safety, and welfare of Texans as individuals, but to the larger goals of preventing and limiting the spread of COVID-19. The Commission has an opportunity to provide a level of relief to every Texan and ensure that all of us in Texas are a little bit safer by issuing this Emergency Rule. We cannot more urgently request that the Commission grant our Petition to provide temporary protection against the coronavirus," TLSC said