FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 7, 2006
AUSTIN, TX -- Today Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. submitted yet another letter on behalf of indigent Texans unable to afford high electric utility bills to the Governor, Speaker and Lieutenant Governor asking for a full restoration of the System Benefit Fund (SBF).
At its peak, the SBF, which funded the LITE-UP Texas program, was able to help nearly 800,000 Texans by offsetting the cost to offer them electricity bill discounts. Sen. Lucio, who is also joining other legislators requesting the restoration, said doing so would provide a 10 percent electricity discount for eligible families for the rest of the year. Elimination of Texas LITE-UP has left more than 80,000 South Texans without any assistance during the direst of times. Forcing these people, particularly the ill and elderly, to forego air conditioning on days of excessively high temperatures makes them suffer needlessly and face possible death from the heat.
While the SBF fee is still being collected on every electricity bill, the fees are no longer being directed to this fund.
"The urgency of the high costs of electricity combined with the record high temperatures is creating an emergency that needs to be addressed immediately," said Sen. Lucio. "We have the money available to fulfill this request, but it must be done as soon as possible, and not until the next scheduled Legislative Budget Board meeting in November, when the issue would normally be addressed."
Note: Staff member handling this issue is Ms. Perla Cavazos, senior policy analyst, 512-463-0127.