Texas PUC Formally Extends Benefits Under Electricity Relief Program Through September 30, Also Sets Final Date For REPs To Submit Requests For Reimbursements
August 27, 2020 Email This Story Copyright 2010-20 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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At today's open meeting of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, the PUC adopted an order concerning the wind-down of the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program (ERP), which includes the provision of benefits, through September 30, 2020, to eligible customers who have enrolled in the program.
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
Under the adopted order, ERP enrollments shall end on August 31, and ERP program benefits shall end on September 30, 2020.
The exemption under the program from disconnections for non-payment for eligible residential customers in areas open to customer choice ends September 30, 2020. Disconnections for nonpayment may resume on October 1, 2020 for program enrollees to whom notice has been provided at least ten, but no more than 30, days in advance.
In a news release, the PUC said that
the ERP program is currently protecting nearly 595,000 households from disconnection for non-payment
Under the order, financial assistance for eligible residential customers available under the COVID-19
Electricity Relief Program is applicable to invoices received from the TDU by the REP and electric bills issued to eligible residential customers on or
after March 26, 2020 and before October 1, 2020.
The order requires that, to be eligible for reimbursement, a REP must submit its request for reimbursement on or
before November 30, 2020, and a TDU must not accept a request by a REP for
reimbursement of energy charges after November 30, 2020
As previously reported, at the August 13 open meeting, PUC Chairman DeAnn T. Walker stressed to retail electric providers that the wind-down of the ERP does not impact the PUC's separate order requiring REPs to offer deferred payment plans during the state of emergency related to the pandemic until otherwise directed by PUC order
Specifically, as previously reported, on March 26, 2020, April 17, 2020, and May 14, 2020, in accordance with 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §§ 25.480(j)(1)(B) and 25.498(i)(1)(B), the Commission directed all retail electric providers to offer a deferred payment plan to customers, upon request.
The PUC renewed this directive to all retail electric providers in a July 16 order which provides that, "All retail electric providers must continue to offer a deferred payment plan to customers, upon request, until further order of the Commission." This order was separate from the ERP order.
Walker on August 13 said that ending the deferred payment plan requirement at the end of August would not be appropriate at this time, especially since the separate ERP is ending and customers will lose such benefits and will once again be subject to disconnection for non-payment. Such transitioning customers would benefit from the availability of a deferred payment plan, Walker said