TX PUC Orders Utility Deposit Waiver for Hurricane Victims
In a move seen as especially beneficial to low-income households, and as a potential model for other states, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas on September 9 ordered a waiver on deposits for connecting telephone and electric service throughout Texas to Hurricane Katrina victims. The action was a direct response to the needs of hurricane victims an estimated 250,000 have arrived in the state who are moving into homes and apartments in the state.
It was also in response to a petition filed by advocacy groups such as Texas Legal Services, Texas Ratepayers' Organization to Save Energy, the Office of Public Utility Counsel, the United Way of Texas, AARP, Consumers Union Southwest Regional Office and the Texas Association of Community Action Agencies. The groups have also filed a petition for a waiver of natural gas deposits.
The deposit waiver is the key element in an order that removes potential impediments to establishing telephone and electric service in Texas. Some Texas providers already have voluntarily waived deposit requirements and eliminated installation fees. The order is effective through the end of September. The Commission will monitor the orders impact during the next few weeks to determine if any improvements are needed.
Additionally, Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a proclamation suspending regulations that may inhibit or prevent prompt response to emergency conditions created by Hurricane Katrina.
The PUC does not have the authority to waive deposit requirements for customers of municipal electric utilities and electric cooperatives, but the Commission encourages these entities to authorize such waivers.
Source: Texas PUC