Utility takes steps to fix Austin’s bill discount program
After utility activist Paul Robbins exposed problems in the city’s utility discount program, with residents of higher-value homes being enrolled in a program designed to help poor people, Austin Energy has tightened up its screening process.
Ronnie Mendoza, who runs the Customer Assistance Program, said the old way erred on the side of enrolling people who weren’t a perfect match. But that old system also made it possible to enroll people who weren’t really eligible.
Austin Energy plans to further tighten its enrollment process by no longer automatically enrolling people who have homes valued over $250,000 (not including land value). Gutierrez explained the utility will send letters to people who are no longer automatically enrolled due to high home values and invite them to contact the utility if they believe they are eligible. They plan to implement that change in mid-October.