Sierra Club Applauds PUC Actions to Suspend Water and Residential Electric Disconnections

Earlier today, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas voted unanimously to issue a state-wide, temporary moratorium on disconnects of electric, water and wastewater service for failure to pay. For eligible residential customers in the competitive electric market in Texas (where you have choice in your electric provider), the PUC created a new COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program, which will be the mechanism to protect low income customers in the competitive market from disconnections.

This is welcome news for Texans that are currently struggling or will begin struggling to make ends meet in the face of unprecedented unemployment and related economic impacts. Low-income communities and communities of color pay the highest proportion of their incomes for energy and they are most vulnerable to disconnection. 

Texans will face unknown economic and public health challenges in the coming months, especially as hot weather and the hurricane season approach. While today’s actions are an important first step, Sierra Club and other allies will be following the evolving situation and will continue to advocate for necessary protections in the implementation of these programs at the PUC. 

In response to today’s decisions made by the Public Utility Commission, Misti O’Quinn, Organizing Representative, released the following statement

“The impact of the current pandemic has hit really close to home for me. I am not the only one with friends and family that have been put in a place of financial uncertainty as a result.  Texas residents require and deserve access to utilities regardless of their ability to pay during the COVID-19 emergency. We need the adequate safety-nets to ensure that all Texans are secure and feel as though they can rely on state agencies to assist them during this crisis.”