The City of Austin’s customer assistance program (CAP) is expanding – and soon 15,000 more people in need will receive help on their utility bills.
The City utility’s new rate structure provides funding to expand the number of customers who can receive help on their bills, makes it easier to qualify, and discounts more of their bills than ever before, said Ronnie Mendoza, Customer Service Manager for Austin Energy, which manages customer solutions and the CAP program.
“So it’s one of the most generous discount programs in the nation,” Mendoza said.
The Customer Assistance Program, which has been around in some form since 1983, until recently served only 10,000 customers in need. Customers who could prove they qualified for Medicaid or a few other specific programs received a 50 percent discount off their energy usage amongst other fee waivers.
But in October, “The program was expanded significantly by the City Council,” Mendoza said.
The utility now provides discounts on the electric customer charge, electric usage charges and other electric fees. In addition, water and wastewater fees are waived and other utility fees are discounted by 50 percent.
And more customers can qualify to receive the discount now, Mendoza said.
“We had such a narrow scope of who could qualify – we only accepted specific programs, which left a lot of people out.”
Now with the expansion of the program, people receiving benefits from the following are also eligible for the Customer Assistance program:
- All Medicaid programs
- SNAP food benefits
- CHIP children’s Medicaid
- Lifeline low-income telephone support
“The new problem will likely be a wait list – which is something we will be watching closely,” Mendoza said.
To get more information or apply for the Customer Assistance Program, visit Austin Energy’s website or call 512-494-9400.