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Power companies will start issuing disconnection notices soon

The Public Utility Commission said the moratorium is no longer needed.

AUSTIN, Texas — Starting next week, electricity companies may start issuing disconnection notices.

Under a COVID-19 ruling, the Public Utility Commission prohibited energy companies from disconnecting customers due to nonpayment.

On Friday, commissioners said the moratorium is no longer needed.

"In my view, the emergency has passed and we need a catalyst in the market to break this log jam to get people contacting their reps," Will McAdams, PUC commissioner, said during the PUC meeting.

Companies may start issuing notices next week. A service disconnection cannot happen until the customer gets a warning including the amount owed.

"The longer we stay in this regulatory limbo, the more these consumers are just going to be rolling these large averages into the fall," McAdams said. 

"This is a delicate balance between financial impact on consumers and households and the economic health of electric providers in our competitive marketplace," Peter Lake, PUC chairman, said.

Austin Energy is not regulated by the Public Utility Commission, it's governed by Austin City Council. 

Austin Energy said disconnections will resume in July. However, the City partnered with Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) to give financial help to customers. 

"If you are unable to pay your utility bill, please contact City of Austin Utilities Customer Care immediately at 512-494-9400. A Customer Service Representative will review your account and discuss available options such as payment arrangements and financial assistance," Austin Energy's press release shows.

Austin Energy will not disconnect anyone if the heat index is 102 degrees or higher.

PUC rules show a disconnection cannot happen if the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory for any county in the electric utility’s service territory within the last two days.


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