The state provides significant savings on electric bills from the LITE-UP Texas program. It is effective for almost half of the year, from May until September, and it provides significant discounts to low income households of almost every utility company in the state.
One of the main reasons the program was created was in an effort to help families cope with the higher costs of utility bills during the warmer months in Texas, which include late Spring to early fall. It can be difficult to pay air conditioning or cooling bills during this timeframe, and some customers, such as the elderly or ill, may even be at risk if their power were to be disconnected. There are instances in which people with a medical condition have passed away due to excessive heat issues during the summer.
So in order to help minimize this risk, the state implemented the discount program a number of years ago. While the rates will be set by a board which oversees the program, in some cases customers may be provided with up to an 80% discount on their monthly bills.
Some companies will also provide a discount on a deposit or connection fee that would normally be charged to the customer as well. While this is not common, it is recommended that low income families ask about this service. There can also be additional assistance offered to families considered at risk without power, such as a family with a young child or maybe a senior citizen living in the home.
The focus is on very low income households or those facing poverty or a hardship, such as unemployment. Senior citizens and the disabled can also apply. Some of the conditions include the subsidy is for customers that receive government benefits such as Medicaid or SNAP food stamps. Or, if the applicant meets certain federal government poverty guidelines, those customers may be able to enroll as well. In general, the scale may be set to be equivalent to about 125% of the federal guidelines. For more information on the guidelines to apply for LITE-UP, dial 1-866-454-8387.
Texas will require proof of address, household income, and other supporting documentation as well. For example, the name and address on the electric bill submitted needs to match the applicants name and address. There may also be proof of number of household occupants, total assets, and other data needed. The applications can be faxed or emailed to the state as well, and they will be processed accordingly.
The LITE-UP program is wide ranging. It is used for the completive electric market, and all utility companies in Texas will participate in it. This includes Centerpoint, Entergy, TXU, Reliant, AEP and many others. So for those households that reside in deregulated areas, they may benefit from the discounts arranged by the state.
If for some reason your provider does not participate in LITE-UP, they will more than likely provide some other form of discount to individuals. Many offer some type of similar service. Call your company in order to see if they provide some form of discount or subsidy.
The state will make an announcement every year whether the discount will be available or not. It has been effective for a number of years, and it would not be common for it to be canceled, however feel free to call the state at 1-866-454-8387 or make an inquiry at a local community action agency.
When applying, applications will normally need to be completed in the June or July timeframe. However, in general, the earlier that someone applies the better. That way if there are questions or more information is needed from the state, that there will be time to get those issues resolved.