On July 16, Austin Energy and the City of Austin held the Affordable Energy Policy Summit to talk about current affordability related programs and to gain input on how to improve the programs. Austin Energy’s Customer Assistance Programs provide support to low-income and medically vulnerable customers, along with providing free energy home improvements for eligible customers. These programs include the:
- Customer Assistance Discount program that offers a monthly discount to households where a member is a participant of state, federal or local assistance program such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, etc.
- Financial Support Plus 1 Program provides financial help to customers who are unable to pay their bills due to unexpected emergencies. Customers must work with the existing 34 partner community organizations that determine eligibility and assist with applications.
- Payment arrangements that allow customers to pay off a past due bill amount by spreading it over a specific period through monthly installments.
- Medically Vulnerable Registry for customers with long-term medical concerns. Eligible customers can join the registry to receive additional time to pay bills and to gain access to one-on-one case management.
- Community Connections information sessions for Customer Assistance Discount Program participants. These bilingual sessions are meant to provide greater understanding of managing utility bills along with energy and water conservation techniques.
- Free home energy improvements programs for low- to-moderate income customers that include home weatherization, rebates and loans to cover costs of energy-efficient improvements, recycling of refrigerators and freezers, and water conservation.
The summit focused on helping community partners to gain a better understanding of Austin Energy’s programs and to provide feedback for future enhancement. One feedback session was devoted to the children’s curriculum being developed at Austin Energy that will focus on educating schoolchildren about energy-efficiency and sustainability. Austin Energy’s Low Income Advisory Task Force also held a breakout session to share the policy work being done by the task force and to get future recommendation from participants. Austin Energy’s initiatives along with the work of its partners can play a major role in addressing affordability concerns in the City of Austin.
Further information of the Customer Assistance Programs along with a list of Plus 1 partners can be found here.