LUBBOCK, Texas — With winter weather and icy roads, many of us are inside and at home using more heat and electricity, which may cause next month’s utility bill to go through the roof. Luckily, there are resources and assistance programs that can help you catch up or pay those bills.
Wes Reeves with Xcel Energy said customers have had a hard time paying utility bills and wanted to let them know there are resources and help to relieve some of the stress.
“It’s not just customers who have a lack of income, it’s working families, everybody’s had an issue with it this year,” Reeves said. “We’ve been working with them a lot lately because bills have been harder to pay…we’ve used a lot more electricity trying to stay warm, and people are struggling.”
The Texas Utility help fund recently received an additional $48 million from the Federal Infrastructure and Investment jobs act to support Texans who need help paying their energy bills.
Those who apply and are approved may qualify for assistance to pay off the total past due utility bills for electricity, natural gas, propane, water and wastewater, and receive up to $2,400 for future payments.
Karen Murfee, the director of Community Development for the City of Lubbock, said the money comes in annually and is available until it runs out.
“It’s a grant that we received from TDHCA, Texas Department of Housing, Community Affairs, and we receive this funding each year to pay for electricity or gas or propane,” Murfee said.
Murfee said that assistance is available to Lubbock residents through the Texas Utility Help fund website or calling Neighborhood house. She recommends leaving a voicemail with an email they can send the application to.
“When I say we, Neighborhood House and Community Development, work in conjunction to contact those utility companies and we ask them to please pledge for this customer, this citizen, this much,” Murfee said. “Then we write the check and it’ll show up on their bill later on.”
Murfee said the amount they contribute each month for your bill depends on your usage but are willing to help for an extended amount of time.
“It could be a multi month, so it could be anywhere from eight to ten months,” Murfee said. ” We work with them, and we’ll contact them, but we do let them know, this is how much money you’ve been awarded for the year, but we’re only paying this bill.”
Murfee also said they offer assistance in other ways as well, such as air conditioning or heating repairs on existing units in your household.
“Also, this program will do heating and cooling repair or replacement if you’re having problems with your heater,” Murfee said.