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Utilities provide bill relief after winter weather event

Your power may have been out, your water off and the last thing you want to see is a big bill. What companies are doing to give relief.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — The winter blast interrupted many essential services. Frozen and burst pipes left many without water, but all that gushing water will leave people paying more. Anne Hayden with SAWS said the utility wants to ease the financial burden.

“We want people to know we understand there is probably going to be a spike in the water use right now,” she said.

SAWS developed a relief program for customers. The utility will compare two bills and charge you the one that costs the least.

“We are automatically going to compare the bill that includes this segment of time with the freeze and high water dripping to the previous month when it was more normal water use and we will automatically pick whichever is the lower bill,” Hayden said.

The one-time adjustment will apply to both residential and commercial customers. SAWS said it will especially help those who might have had an usually high bill because of a freeze-related leak. The utility said it would continue to work with customers on bill payment options moving forward. It has discontinued water shut-offs for non-payment since last spring as part of its coronavirus relief effort.

CPS Energy is also trying to develop a bill relief plan for the extra energy customers used. The power company does not know what that will look like just yet.

“We are still trying to get our hands around the numbers, but it’s going to be huge,” said Paula Gold-Williams, the president and CEO of CPS Energy. “We are committed to the community to do everything we can to minimize the impact of that, to spread it out, to find ways to push the costs out through financing mechanisms and things like that.”

CPS Energy issued this statement to KENS 5:

“The financial impact of the winter weather emergency has not yet been fully calculated, but it may be substantial. Our goal is always to keep our customers’ bills affordable. We experienced unusually sharp increases in the costs of fuel. The effects of this February 2021 weather event will continue beyond restoring power. While fuel charges are normally passed on to customers, our team will pursue every financing tool within our ability to spread the financial impact over years. Spreading out the costs, if approved, will minimize the impact to customer affordability, which is important since the community has already been through a very difficult time. As prices stabilize and while our team assesses the ultimate financial impact, we will continue working with our Board of Trustees and the San Antonio City Council to find the most financially reasonable solutions for our community.”

CPS Energy is also not disconnecting customers for non-payment.

Many also experienced disruptions in their cell service. AT&T is automatically waiving data overage charges for some Texas customers from February 17 to 21. It is also offering a 25 percent discount on some power accessories to customers in Texas through February 21 in stores. 

T-Mobile is providing unlimited talk, text and data through February 20.

Spectrum said it will work with mobile customers who contact the wireless provider.

You can always reach out to customer service of any provider that had disrupted services during the severe weather and nicely ask if your bill can be adjusted.

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