Austin Energy provides extra support for local customers

Austin Energy is the eighth-largest community-owned utility in Texas, and the company is making it easier for some residents to pay their bills through its customer assistance program. The initiative was launched in 1983 to serve roughly 10,000 Austin customers who needed help with their energy expenses. However, Austin Energy officials recently announced that the plan will assist more local residents going forward.

In October 2012, Austin City Council members said that 15,000 more citizens could take advantage of the program. Ronnie Mendoza, Customer Service Manager for Austin Energy, noted that more customers could noticeably reduce their energy bills, thanks in part to the recent expansion.

"We had such a narrow scope of who could qualify - we only accepted specific programs, which left a lot of people out," Mendoza said.

How does the customer assistance program work?
Austin Energy's customer support initiative is designed to assist citizens who might otherwise struggle to pay their monthly energy bills. The program enables customers who are qualified for Medicaid and various financial aid programs to receive 50 percent off energy costs and other fee waivers.

The program's expansion helps local residents in several ways. Austin Energy is offering new discounts on water and wastewater fees to help them further reduce their monthly bills. Additionally, more customers are eligible for the program, including citizens who receive SNAP food benefits, CHIP children's Medicaid and Lifeline low-income telephone support.

"It's one of the most generous discount programs in the nation," Mendoza said.

Company officials will closely monitor the program in its initial stages, as Mendoza notes interest could be high among local residents.

"The new problem will likely be a wait list – which is something we will be watching closely," Mendoza said.

Austin Energy has consistently supported the city and its citizens. People who are interested in purchasing some of the homes for sale in Austin may consider the impact of the area's utility companies.

With more than $1.2 billion in annual revenues, Austin Energy is a significant contributor to the local economy. The business serves more than 420,000 customers and has made over $100 million in community donations since 2010.

Meanwhile, Austin Energy officials continue to seek energy-efficient solutions to enhance the quality of life for Austin residents. The company's goal is to get 35 percent of its energy supply from renewable resources by 2020.