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Help with Utilities During COVID-19

The Texas Public Utility Commission has temporarily halted electricity, water, and sewage shutoffs due to Winter Storm Uri. It is not clear at this time how long shutoffs will be suspended.

How do I keep my electricty connected?

 

Texas Rent Relief ProgramThe new Texas Rent Relief program can help with utilities as well as rent. The program is now accepting applications.

Baker-Ripley's Utility Assistance ProgramYou can apply for up to $3,200 in utility assistance.

Contact Your Provider: If you cannot pay your electricity contact your utility provider. Even if your utility company has stated it will halt shutoffs due to emergency order, local ordinance, or by voluntary action, contact your utility provider. You may need to ask for help to avoid shutoffs. 

Municipal Utilities

If you purchase your electricity from a city, they may have their own assistance program in place. Some city and government-owned utilities have halted electricity shutoffs due to COVID, including: 

Be sure you contact your provider to find out how to participate in their assistance programs.

Many cities have also created programs to help with utility bills. Be sure to go to your utility provider's website to learn about these programs.

Contact Your Utility Provider

The best thing you can do to keep your utilities on may be to contact your utility providers. There are a number of programs that might help you if you ask. 

How do I keep my water and sewer connected?

Texas Rent Relief ProgramThe new Texas Rent Relief program can help with utilities as well as rent. The program is now accepting applications.

Baker Ripley's Utility Assistance ProgramYou can apply for up to $3,200 in utility assistance.

The Public Utility Commission's halt of water and sewer shutoffs ended on June 13. Pending any renewal, many public water and sewer providers are still suspending shutoffs. These include:

Some cities have also created programs to help with utility bills.

Contact your water and sewer provider to see if they are suspending shutoffs. They may also work with you to defer payments.

What about natural gas service?

Texas Rent Relief ProgramThe new Texas Rent Relief program can help with utilities as well as rent. The program is now accepting applications.

Baker Ripley's Utility Assistance ProgramYou can apply for up to $3,200 in utility assistance.

Also, some natural gas providers have voluntarily halted natural gas shutoffs due to COVID-19.

Companies halting gas shutoffs:

  • Atmos - Until further notice
  • Centerpoint - Has resumed shutoffs, but go here to see how you may get help with your gas bill.
  • Corix - Until further notice
  • Coserv - Coserv has resumed shutoffs, but go here to see how may get help with your gas bill.
  • Epcor - Until further notice (no shutoffs for residences, businesses may defer payments for 30 days)
  • Texas Gas Service - Has resumed shutoffs, but go here to see how you may get help with your gas bill.
  • Texas-Kansas-Oklahoma Gas - Until further notice

The above list may be incomplete or out of date. Whether listed here or not, contact your gas provider to ask about programs to keep your gas connected.

Note that you will still owe money for unpaid gas bills. Participating companies have said only that they will temporarily halt shutoffs for nonpayment.

 

What about internet?

Many internet providers have programs to help people suffering hardship due to COVID-19. Contact your provider to benefit from these programs.

For more help affording internet, see our Internet Access article.

For help finding free public internet access, see the Texas Free WiFi Map.

I asked my electricity provider for a deferment, but they refused. What now?

Most electric and water providers in Texas must help you defer your bills if you ask. If you have complaints about your utility provider, call the Public Utility Commission of Texas at 888-782-8477, or email customer@puc.texas.gov

You can also apply for help paying your utility bill at:

Or call 211 for more options.

My kids need the internet for school, but I can't afford it. What can I do?

Some internet providers have special deals that can help.

  • Spectrum has low-income internet available in some areas. See Spectrum's Internet Assist program.
  • Xfinity is offering free wi-fi hotspots in some areas. See more here.
  • AT&T has low-income internet available in some areas. See AT&T's Access program.
  • Internet Essentials is offering two free months of internet service to qualifying customers. See more here.

Some schools are also doing their best to provide internet access to students. Austin, for example, has a fleet of buses that provide WiFi throughout the school district. (If you live in Austin, see the Austin ISD WiFi bus map.)

Also see the Texas Free Wifi Map to see if there is free public WiFi in your area.

For information on whether your child's school district helps provide access to the internet and online classes, go to the school's website, school district's website, or contact your school administrators.

Does this mean I won't owe money for utilities?

No. Talking to your company may help avoid late fees or lessen the amount you owe. However, even if your company has paused shutoffs or helped you with deferment, you must eventually pay your bills.

If you have complaints about your utility provider, call the Public Utility Commission of Texas at 888-782-8477, or email customer@puc.texas.gov

I'm confused. Who do I call? Are my utility providers halting shutoffs?

Texas has a complicated patchwork of public and private utility sellers and resellers. If in doubt, contact your providers.

Be sure to write down the time you contacted the provider, the name of the person you talked to, and what was said.

My landlord shut off my utilities. Can they do that?

No, your landlord cannot shut off your utilities. This is true even if you are behind on rent.

For more information:

Can I get help paying my utilities?

Maybe. The following programs exist to help people pay utilities:

This list is likely incomplete, so you may want to check with your local government or utility provider to see if they have additional programs.