AUSTIN (KXAN) - City of Austin utility customers delinquent on summer utility bills now have until Sept. 28 to sign up for a one time six-month payment plan.
With the consistent 100-plus degree temperatures this summer air conditioning use has pushed residential electric usage to record levels. Single-family home owners set new monthly usage records for May, June, July and likely for August. Summer electric bills have been higher for many customers compared to any summer in recent history.
Utility payment plans, called deferred payment agreements, are generally available for as long as a four-month period. To date more than 7,000 customers have signed up for the six-month payment plan option.
The offer is available to any customer – regardless of their payment history. However, customers involved in meter tampering are not eligible.
Customers can use the six-month payment option by paying one-third of their delinquent total and paying the rest in equal installments over six months along with their monthly utility bill.
City officials said bills that are delinquent more than 30 days total $15 million.
Because of the extreme heat, the city of Austin has not cut off the utility services of delinquent customers.
Cuts for non-payment are halted anytime the heat index reaches or exceeds 102 degrees one day and is expected to reach or exceed 102 degrees on the following day.
No disconnects for non-payment have occurred since July 1.
Utility bill assistance
Customers currently receiving benefits through various assistance programs such as Supplemental Social Security Income, various state Medicaid programs and Travis County assistance programs may be eligible for the city of Austin Utility Discount Program.
The city program provides combined utility bill discounts of about $400 a year for an average customer. Currently almost 10,000 customers participate in the program with utility bill savings for the group totaling almost $4 million a year.
Emergency utility bill assistance
The city of Austin in 2009 doubled to $300,000 the amount of money made available annually for emergency utility bill financial assistance. Utility customers also donate about $45,000 a year on average to this cause. The funding is administered by community outreach partners such as Travis County Family Services, Meals on Wheels and more.
Details on all utility bill payment assistance programs are available online.
The city of Austin maintains a registry for medically vulnerable customers with a long-term disease or critical ailments. Customers who qualify may receive additional time to pay utility bills and are provided one-on-one case management to help keep their utility accounts in good standing and to secure social service assistance where possible.
The program applies to those on life support, those being treated for a critical illness such as paraplegia or multiple sclerosis or those being treated for an illness impacted by extreme temperatures.
Details on the program are available online.
For information or to sign up for programs, call 512-494-9400. Customer care hours are from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
Customers may also email questions and requests to email@example.com .
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