Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have paused utility service shutoffs due to late payment. Click here for a full list of states, utilities, and suppliers COVID-19 responses.
Many suppliers and utility companies are offering some sort of bill deferment or forgiveness program due to COVID-19 pandemic.
For a complete list of suppliers and utilities offering billing support during the pandemic visit this page.
Additionally, Princeton University's Eviction Lab compiles multiple types of aid at a local and state level.
The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) has created the “COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program” to assist customers experiencing financial hardships due to COVID-19.
For details about the program, please visit http://www.puc.texas.gov/images/facts/PUCTX-COVID19-FAQ-FAQ.pdf.
It is essential to understand that not all customers qualify and that enrollment cannot be performed by the company. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are enrolled in the state’s program.
Therefore, the best option is to contact the state’s administrator to enroll in the program.
How do I enroll?
If you are a residential electricity customer in areas of Texas open to retail competition (deregulation) who qualifies for unemployment benefits and is in genuinely dire economic straits as a result of COVID-19, then please contact the state’s Low Income List Administrator (LILA) by either of the following to methods:
1) Best Option: Complete the enrollment form online at https://www.txcovid19erp.org/.
2) the LILA call center at 1-866-454-8387. Their call center is operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you are currently enrolled in an energy plan it is very unlikely that you will see any change in current rate. Most contracts do have provisions that could allow a supplier to increase your rate due to government action or change in material adverse change. Sometimes called “bandwidth provisions” this language allows the supplier to change your rate if your usage drastically changes. This is generally for businesses and is only levied if use usage increases quickly.
Some suppliers may allow you to switch to a lower rate if you agree to a longer-term. By staying with your current supplier you avoid early termination fee - call your energy provider.
Like every market, the energy market is driven by supply and demand. Because of the COVID-19 shutdown, there is volatility in demand that will continue to evolve as more businesses suspend operations.
Fortunately, the energy market has been sitting at historic lows for the past several months, so although prices in the short term may be erratic overall the market is in a good place.
It’s hard to make any definite judgment calls at this point in the crisis. There are scenarios that could cause a price drop or hike. As new data evolves there will be a more accurate picture of what the future holds.
Our suggestion is that if you or your business are stable and well-capitalized current prices are low so locking into a long-term rate at historic lows could be a smart move. If you facing uncertainty or believe prices will continue to drop it would serve you better to find a short-term contract with good early termination terms.
Your best weapon is knowledge. Research suppliers in your area, get multiple quotes and make the decision that fits your needs.
Many utilities and suppliers have halted shut-offs or are offering bill assistance due to the Coronavirus pandemic. If you are unable to pay your bill you should contact the company you pay our utility bill too as soon as possible to negotiate a payment plan.
You can find a complete list of supplier and utility contact information here along with what each is doing to help customers during the pandemic.
So far this is being determined on a case-by-case basis by each supplier or utility. If you are forced to permanently close your business you should contact your supplier or utility (whichever one you pay your bill too) to see what options they have. You can find more information on programs offered by suppliers and utility here.
Keep in mind this is an unprecedented problem and things are changing day by day.
Terms and conditions change by supplier and plan, but generally, there is often a fee associated with canceling your plan early. This fee ranges from a few dollars upwards of 100s of dollars.
If you are wanting to cancel your plan due an issue associated with the COVID-19 pandemic we recommend contacting your utility or supplier to see what assistance they can offer.
Yes. Most suppliers are still open and taking new business, but due to market uncertainty, you may have to go to extra lengths to prove creditworthiness (especially business customers).
This means you might have to provide proof of payment on your last 3-6 months of bills.
The energy industry as a whole is invested in maintaining the grid and realize that electricity is an essential piece to our healthcare system, financial system, and daily lives. Like the rest of us, they are working to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic and committed to staying operational. The likelihood that the U.S will experience widespread outages due to lack of generation is small.
While COVID-19 could cause some generators to pause operations to prevent outbreak, there are many organizations that are closely monitoring the grid to ensure proper demand is met.