FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2006
AUSTIN, TX -- Today Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. submitted a letter to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) asking that they approve a petition by the Texas Office of the Public Utility Counsel, consumer groups and legislators for a moratorium on electric utility disconnections to be imposed during July, August, and September. Sen. Lucio said he joined the request that PUC instead allow Texans who cannot afford the high utility summer bills to extend their payments over a period of six months. His quote follows:
"We are asking that our most vulnerable populations, seniors and those defined as 'critically needy' not face the scorching summer heat with no electricity because the high cost of cooling their homes makes it unaffordable. It is unconscionable to force these Texans, our aging population or families on limited incomes, to suffer when there are alternatives to terminating their service. I fully support this moratorium, especially since I represent one of the poorest regions of the state-South Texas-and understand the dire circumstances of so many.
Many Texans are already facing dire circumstances from cuts to LITE-UP Texas, a program that provided a 17 percent discount on utility bills for 800,000 financially strapped people, many of whom reside in my Senatorial District. On Sept 1, 2005, this program was discontinued, so this year high electricity costs are compounding the problem.
Placing a moratorium on utility bills is the least we can ask to prevent not only suffering, but also deaths in circumstances when the unbearable heat of summer proves fatal to some. I certainly hope that the PUC will listen to our pleas on behalf of our needy and vulnerable Texans."