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Texas PUC Chair: Would Like To "Wind Down" Electricity Relief Program Before Year-End, Still Discussing Process For Resumption Of Disconnection For Non-Pay For Affected Customers, Some Concerns Remain On Potential Sept. 1 Start

June 12, 2020

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Reporting by Paul Ring •

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During today's open meeting, Texas PUC Chairman DeAnn T. Walker said that she would like the Electricity Relief Program to wind down by the end of the year.

Per prior PUC order, the Electricity Relief Program (ERP) is scheduled to end on July 17, unless extended by the Commission

As previously reported, the ERP reimburses REPs at a rate of $0.04 per kWh for customers in the ERP, whom the REPs cannot disconnect for non-payment. Delivery charges are also not charged to the REPs for ERP customers

In a memo, PUC Staff had noted that, due to the logistics concerning the ERP self-enrollment process and providing such customer lists to REPs, a July 17 end date for the program would mean that customers enrolled after July 8 would not receive protection from DNP under the ERP, as customers enrolled as of July 8 would be the most recent customer list that REPs would have access to as of July 17

In a memo, Staff had offered the following schedule for consideration in winding down the program:

• July 17 - self-enrollment via Solix using unemployment benefits ends

• July 24 - final self-enrollment list provided to REPs

• July 30 - final HHSC-based enrollment list sent to REPs

• August 31 - last day of disconnection protection, last invoice date eligible for financial assistance (including delivery charge suppression), last date for satisfactory credit deposit protection

• September 1 - DNPs may resume for customers to whom notice has been provided at least 10, but no more than 30, days in advance.

• September 26 - deadline for TDUs to reimburse ERCOT for its initial contribution

• October 15 - last day for a REP to request delivery charge suppression and reimbursement of energy charges (90 days from the end of ERP enrollment)

Walker said that TDUs and REPs should work on an orderly transition, based on the Staff memo

Walker stressed that the proposed Sept. 1 start date for resumption of disconnections for non-payment for former ERP customers remains a point of discussion, and should not be viewed as a hard date at this time. Walker remains concerned about any accrued bills for ERP customers, and the potential for mass DNPs being initiated on September 1. Walker said that REPs continue to work with the Commission on the issue

Commissioner Arthur C. D'Andrea said that an August 31 termination date for the ERP makes sense, given the end of the summer

Walker said that more details will need to be discussed at the July 2 open meeting

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