On March 13, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued his initial Declaration of State of Disaster for all counties in Texas due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On October 7, 2020 Governor Abbott extended his Declaration of State of Disaster for all counties in Texas. The Office of Public Utility Counsel is working hard to ensure that the public has all necessary information related to the novel Coronavirus.
Electricity, Water and Wastewater Service
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) has received $1.3 billion in Emergency Rental Assistance funds from the newly passed Coronavirus Relief Bill to help eligible Texans pay for expenses related to rent and utility bills. TDHCA will accept applications from landlords and tenants beginning February 15, 2021, at 8 a.m. through March 8, 2021. Residential consumers can learn more about qualifying for assistance and apply online at TexasRentRelief.com or by calling 1-833-989-7368.
In addition, low income households may be eligible through the Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) for bill payment assistance. The CEAP consists of LIHEAP-funded programs and is administered through local provider organizations. A list of contact information for providers in your area may be viewed at https://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/texans.htm by clicking on the circle for Utility Bill Payment Help and entering your county or city of residence.
COVID-19 Consumer-Related Actions
On March 26, 2020, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) responded to Governor Abbott’s Declaration of State of Disaster for all counties in Texas with a series of measures intended to address the impact of COVID-19-related financial hardship on residential consumers, including the creation of the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program, which came to an end on October 1, 2020.
For more information on the PUCT's coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit their Dedicated Resource Page
Residential Consumer Payment Plans
In areas of the state that are open to retail electric competition, OPUC recommends residential consumers who are experiencing COVID-19-related financial hardship contact their Retail Electric Provider to request assistance and set up a payment plan.
In areas of the state that are not open to retail electric competition and are served by integrated electric utilities, such as El Paso Electric, Southwestern Public Service, Southwestern Electric Power Company and Entergy Texas, the moratorium on disconnections expired on August 31st. Consumers are encouraged to contact these entities to set up a payment plan.
- Entergy Texas has created an online hub to aid their residential customers with payment assistance agencies and COVID-19 related programs, as well as a small business hub to aid commercial customers with similar information at www.Entergy.com/COVID-19.
- Southwestern Public Service (SPS) customers may learn more about their COVID-19 related payment options at https://www.xcelenergy.com/covid-19_response/our_commitment.
- Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) customers who are behind on their energy bills may find additional flexible payment options and set up payment arrangements by contacting SWEPCO at: www.SWEPCO.com/Assist
- El Paso Electric customers may learn more about payment arrangements at: www.EPElectric.com/Residential/Customer-Service.
If residential consumers receive electricity service from an electric cooperative or municipally owned utility, such as Austin Energy in Austin or CPS Energy in San Antonio, they should contact them directly to request information about any COVID-19-related assistance that they may be offering residential consumers. These entities are largely outside of the PUCT’s jurisdiction.
The moratorium on disconnections for water and wastewater utilities that are regulated by the PUCT ended on June 13th. Residential consumers should contact these entities to set up a payment plan. This does not apply to communities, municipalities, districts, and non-profit Water Supply Corporations (WSC) that provide retail water and sewer utility service. Residential consumers of these type of water and wastewater utilities should contact the governing body or elected board of their county, municipality, district and non-profit water supply and sewer service corporation (WSC) responsible for making decisions about disconnects during the COVID-19 pandemic. .
Working with the PUCT, the Office of Public Utility Counsel is strongly committed to helping residential customers who are experiencing COVID-19-related financial hardship maintain their electricity, water and wastewater service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other Financial Aid
211 helps Texans find financial assistance to pay for housing and other essential services. This helpful resource also provides a COVID-19 screening tool that you can download if you or someone you are caring for experiences symptoms. Simply dial 2-1-1 or visit: www.211.org/services/covid19
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is dedicated to protecting the health and well-being of employers, employees, and communities in Texas. TWC is working to address the uncertainty that Texans may be experiencing as a result of COVID-19 and is working with federal, state and local officials and agencies to provide financial assistance during the COVID-19 crisis. For more information on how to sign up for unemployment and other available assistance, please visit: https://www.twc.texas.gov/news/covid-19-resources-job-seekers
Key State Agencies Responding to COVID-19
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is dedicated to promoting health and safety best practices and prevention tips to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Texas, as well as tracking confirmed COVID-19 cases, testing, and vaccination in each of our state’s 254 counties. For the latest updates, please visit: www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has launched a statewide mental health support line to help Texans experiencing anxiety, stress, or other emotional challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This resource offers support for all Texans and can be reached any time day or night at 833-986-1919.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) coordinates our state’s emergency management program, which is intended to ensure that our state and local governments respond to and recover from emergencies and disasters and implement plans and programs to help prevent or lessen the impact of emergencies and disasters. For the latest updates on our state’s disaster declarations, financial assistance available for small businesses and other public assistance available for emergency protective measures, please visit: https://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/
Governor Abbott has issued several Executive Orders in response to the spread of COVID-19 in Texas. For the latest updates, please visit: https://gov.texas.gov/coronavirus
A pdf version of this resource center is available for download here.