Texans get break on utility bills during COVID-19 spread

Texans hit financially by the COVID-19 pandemic will not have their lights and water taps shut off because they cannot pay their utility bills, at least for six months.

The Texas Public Utility Commission voted March 26 to ban utilities from cutting off power and water services to Texans who have lost jobs and income during the COVID spread. The ban lasts for six months, according to the order.

 

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The order, voted on by the three-member commission, did not provide direct assistance to utility customers. The commission also did not bar shut-offs on commercial accounts, which industry groups say could lead to the demise of several small businesses, including restaurants, according to the Texas Tribune.

Electricity providers do get access to interest-free loans and reimbursements, which regulators said was necessary to prevent bankruptcies among private utility companies, the Tribune said.