Austin Energy looks to optimize customer utility discounts

FILE - Austin Energy Electric Meter box (KXAN Photo/Ben Friberg)
FILE - Austin Energy Electric Meter box (KXAN Photo/Ben Friberg)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In Austin, nearly 43,000 customers qualify for some type of reduction in their utility rates. When it’s 100 degrees outside, that’s when low-income family’s see their highest utility bill.

On Tuesday, citizens and stakeholders met to discuss how utilities are run and what policies should be implemented or adjusted for the customer assistance programs. The city held the Austin Energy Summit to find out which services they can improve to help low-income customers relieve that cost burden.

Customers who participate in certain state, federal or local assistance programs can qualify for the City of Austin Customer Assistance Program (CAP) discounts. The discounts include waivers of the electric customer service charge, water service customer charge, the water tiered fixed charge and the wastewater customer service charge.

If a customer or anyone in their household participates in one of the following programs, they may be eligible for the discounts based on program guidelines:

  • Medicaid Program
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Telephone Lifeline Program
  • Travis County Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP)
  • Medical Access Program (MAP)Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH)

In 2015, the city says total utility bill savings for the customers receiving the discounts was over $18 million. Earlier this year, Austin Energy said it was adjusting how customers were enrolled into the CAP discount after they discovered some homeowners who were not low-income were receiving discounts.

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